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.

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 still 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 assigned a project to copy 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.

Share this post:


  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