Pelargonium graveolens is a member of the Geranium Family (Geraniaceae), one of about 280 species, mostly native to South Africa. Introduced into Europe in the early seventeenth century, many species and numerous, complex hybrids have been introduced to horticulture, often as scented geraniums with a wide variety of fragrances likened to rose, various citrus scents, spices, coconut, and ginger among many others. This is an extremely complex group taxonomically. The plant material depicted here was authenticated at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi. An obscure paper published in a Chinese journal in 1996 suggested that the essential oil contained methylhexaneamine (MHA), also known as dimethylpentylamine, and/or dimethylamylamine (DMAA)— amphetamine-like compounds, with various analogues that are central nervous system stimulants with health risks. This compound group is on the prohibited list of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Furthermore, it has been suggested that various dietary supplement products sold as geranium oil may be spiked with synthetic analog components purported to be MHA/DMAA, the natural occurrence of which in geranium oil has been questioned. To further complicate matters, Pelargoniums in horticulture are often called Pelargonium graveolens, such as rose geranium cultivars, but involve hybrids of various Pelargonium species.
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