Geranyl Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Geranyl is a highly fragrant terpene that is a component of more than 60 essential oils, including lemongrass, coriander, sassafras, and geranium. Possessing a strong floral aroma, geranyl also exudes notes of pear, banana, peach and apple. Alternately referred to as geranyl acetate, the terpene demonstrates antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.

What is geranyl?

In addition to a frequent presence in essential oils, geranyl is found in a remarkable variety of botanicals. Almond seeds, celery, and coffee are a few of the diverse natural sources of geranyl. As with many other terpenes, such as borneol, geranyl has a rich history in natural medicine and has been tapped to manage pain. Traditional Chinese medicine, for example, has employed oils containing geranyl to treat stomach aches. The terpene has also been used in Eastern medicine to relieve swelling, and sa study from 2011 has found that geranyl may exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect.  

Geranyl in everyday life

The fragrance and food industries use geranyl in a broad scope of products, and you have likely encountered the terpene in your self-care routine or dining experiences. Bath gels, baby powder and shampoo are among the products in which geranyl serves as a fragrance enhancer, emitting a rosy or lavender essence. Likewise, if you've ever lit rose or lavender incense in your home, or placed a jar of potpourri in the bathroom, you may have experienced geranyl. Due to the terpene's widespread occurrence in plants, it can have a versatile flavor profile in foods including cinnamon and citrus. The citrus taste derives from geranyl's connection to citronellol as a primary element of citronella oil.

Therapeutic properties of geranyl

In isolation and as a component of essential oils working in tandem with other ingredients, geranyl has demonstrated antimicrobial, antifungal, and antitumor qualities.


Promising results from a 2018 study published in the oncology journal J BUON have demonstrated the powerful antitumor effects of geranyl. Geranyl attacks cancerous cells through multiple mechanisms, which suggests it could be more effective than medications that don't have this multi-tiered effect on cancer cells.

Antimicrobial and antifungal

A 2017 study by Algerian and Spanish scientists examined the antimicrobial and antifungal activity of Helichrysum italicum essential oil, of which geranyl acetate is a major constituent. The authors found that the oil was effective in fighting several types of fungi, yeast, and bacteria. A 2018 follow-up study published in the same journal further substantiates geranyl's utility against microsporum gypseum, a fungus that can cause skin infections. These findings build upon earlier studies, which have shown that geranyl has a synergistic effect on fighting infection, when used in combination with the common antifungal medication flucanazole.


In 2013, a toxicology journal published results demonstrating that at high doses, geranyl can relieve pain in animal models. The authors concluded that geranyl's potential as an analgesic medication are likely due, at least in part, to its antioxidant properties.

Role of geranyl in cannabis

Zkittlez is a type of cannabis notable for its geranyl content, as well as higher than average levels of other terpenes, such as linalool. Cannabis that is rich in geranyl displays a pleasant combination of floral and fruity scents, with the latter also presenting as a flavor experience. As a component of cannabis, geranyl may offer therapeutic enhancement described as the entourage effect.

Bottom line

A potent floral profile and anti-inflammatory benefits make geranyl a terpene with wide-ranging commercial and medicinal potential.

Major contributions from Dr. Adie Rae.

Was this article helpful? Give Feedback

has been subscribed!

The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on July 6, 2022.