Rose is sometimes called the queen because it is such an important oil in perfumery. Steam-distilled rose essential oil is called rose otto and is usually even more expensive than solvent-extracted rose absolute, unlike most oils where the EO costs less than the absolute. In recent years rose CO2 oil has become another option. Some of the finest rose oils come from Bulgaria, Turkey, France, and Morocco. Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia are the two most common types cultivated for perfume. The photo at right shows blooms of the Kazanlik rose, which is a type of Damask rose grown in Bulgaria for perfume. These roses have a beautiful fragrance and bloom just once each year, in spring.
On average, Rosa damascena yields about 1 kilo of otto per 4000 kilos of flowers using modern distillation methods, though under very favorable conditions it may take just 2600-3000 kilos of roses to produce 1 kilo of oil. Aromatherapist and author Jeanne Rose translates this to about 60 roses required to distill a single drop of rose oil.
Kazanlik roses growing in Sonoma are pictured.