Cape Mountain Oils is situated at the edge of the Cederberg in the Groot Winterhoek, on what was previously a conventional apple farm. Now called Rockhaven, the farm's soils are sandy and acidic, with a harsh Mediterranean climate of dry summers and cold winters. With a focus on high value crops, only six of Rockhaven’s 120 ha are under production: an energetic programme of alien tree removal has returned much of their land to pristine Fynbos. By selecting crops compatible with their environment, soil health has been restored and biodiversity reestablished, from sugarbirds to porcupine and the rare Cape mountain leopard.
Multiple helichrysum species occur naturally in the veld at Rockhaven and African immortelle (Helichrysum odoratissimum) is well suited to cultivation in the area. A strongly-aromatic shrub with silvery leaves and small yellow flowers, African immortelle is indigenous to summer rainfall areas in South Africa with distribution into the mountains of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. H. odorartissimum is traditionally used as a ceremonial or ritual smudge or incense, as well as perfume, insect repellent, sedative, respiratory medicine and topical skin treatment for acne. It is anti-inflammatory, promoting healing and skin recovery, and is now sought after for use in skincare products. The oil has a dense, herbaceous scent of mint and clove while the colour is clear with a hint of pale straw.
Country of origin:
Cape Mountain Oils
November - February
How it’s produced
Cape Mountain Oils is an established producer of indigenous essential oils with a strong commitment to environmental responsibility.
Cape Mountain Oils grows African immortelle using regenerative principles. Adapted to the local climate and soils, this is a waterwise, no-till perennial crop. Mulch and grasses are used as cover and organic waste is composted. Plant material is harvested between November and February each year and steam-distilled on site by their small local team. The oil is fully traceable. Certified organic by KIWA for the last decade, Cape Mountain Oils recently decided not to renew certification due to cost: their methods remain fully organic.
Cape Mountain Oils provides stable employment for the farming community in the Groot Winterhoek, while working to develop a sustainable Cape Fynbos essential oil market worldwide. They are in negotiation with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs around Bioprospecting and Benefit Sharing Regulations, but Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) agreements are yet to be concluded. Pictured: Jaap Moses, Farm Manager.