Germacrene D fraction and Fig Flavor


My Dad’s Fig Tree

I was spoiled growing up. My parents did not buy us things, but they had a garden and orchard. I ate my fill of apricots, asian pears, and prunes right off the tree. Fresh, sweet, flavorful fruit. Often times I’d end up eating 10-20 apricots or prunes in one setting because they were so good.

One fruit that I did not over consume was figs. I found fig skins sticky and the seeds odd. Grandma liked them, so I picked them for her and she was delighted.


Now that I have matured, I devour figs and their heavy, sweet floral character. Their aroma is reminiscent of Germacrene-D fraction isolated from Ylang-Ylang available from Treatt.

Germacrene D Fraction

Treatt calls the aroma chemical Germacrene-D fraction, but uses the safety assessment for Ylang-Ylang oil (FEMA 3119) to support its safe use in food. Technically, a concentrated Germacrene D fraction is not Ylang-Ylang oil. Ylang-Ylang essential oil smells different from the Germacrene D fraction and the GC (Gas Chromatography) analysis is for Ylang Ylang is not the same for the Germacrene D fraction.

Concentrated  Germacrene-D from Ylang Ylang is probably 40% Germacrene D while the rest is Benzyl butyrate (plum like) and other minor constituents.

Besides Germacrene-D fraction from Ylang-Ylang, there is also the fraction from peppermint oil. It is heavy and sweet, but also very woody. The fraction from peppermint oil is less concentrated and contains compounds like beta-Caryophellene and a bit of Damascenone.

In my career, I was tasked with copying the concentrated mint fraction of Germacrene-D without using Germacrene-D. I think it is an interesting concept, mimicking an aroma chemical blend by using another aroma chemical blend.  A challenge that most flavor scientist enjoy; copying what we smell and taste, not copying a GC analysis.

Germacrene D

Germacrene D

Germacrene-D is a sesquiterpene, 15 carbon chain compound composed of 3 isoprene units. Isoprenes are produced by plants and trees. Once you “blot” Germacrene D fraction on a smelling strip, it lasts for days. Like most sesquiterpenes, a little bit goes a long way.

Customers request fig flavors for salad dressings. Figs, because of their texture and sweetness are a great addition to green salads or can be used as the base for a salad, try Mary Cakes fig salad, it’s amazing. She spoils me too and made me some.


  1. Thanks for your article. I was wondering if you could mention which type of woody smells you think are in it too.

    • Susie Bautista says:

      Hi Luke: Is your question what sort of woody notes are in fig? I use woody notes in fig flavor to add “seediness”. Susie

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