Blending by Plant Part: Morphology

by Jade Shutes

Blending by Morphology

Written by: Jade Shutes


Introduction to Morphology Blending

I define ‘morphology’ as a method of intuitively approaching essential oils based upon the messages or energetics inherent within each individual plants specific form and its function/role within the plant. To this we can add in our perceptions based upon their growth, habitat, color and experience of the plant itself (when possible).

The morphology approach to blending and working with essential oils could be compared to the Doctrine of Signatures. The Doctrine of Signature, as ancient as humankind itself, is the art of knowing from the outer appearance of a plant or its environment what its medicinal properties are. That is, by way of reading its colors and shapes, to know what it will heal.1 For instance, Horsetail (Equisetum arvensis) looks like horse hair, so it is good for the hair. It also grows on wet sands, so it is remedy for the kidneys.

In addition to the appearance – which includes shape, color and habitat – the taste, smell, touch or texture can also provide insights into the medicinal applications of a plant. The Doctrine of Signature is quite extensive and is a fascinating field of study. For now, let us develop a better understanding of how to use morphology as an approach to blending and a way of perceiving the energetics of essential oils.

The concept of morphology is bound by the idea that everything that is alive pulsates with energy and that all energy contains information. Our physical bodies are surrounded by an energy field which interacts with the energy field of essential oils, receiving impulses and translating them into unique messages. There is a continuous communication between an individual and an essential oil. An intricate web of interaction connects all life into one vast self-maintaining system.  Like a hologram, every part is related to every other part.  As we begin to appreciate not only ourselves but nature’s gifts as fields of energy with the ability to affect the quality of our own experience, we will finally be getting in touch with our innate ability to heal as well as the innate ability of essential oils to aid in the facilitation of that process.

Blending by Morphology approaches the client and the essential oils based upon the unique message that each individual oil contains, based upon the part of the plant which they are obtained from. In the following pages you will uncover the messages which Seeds, Roots, Woods, Resins, Leaves & Needles, Fruits, and Flowers have to impart to a client.

I believe that intention plays a very powerful role throughout the blending process. The use of Morphology asks the client to participate in this process with mindfulness and to utilize the blends that you make for them with some time of willing participation for the messages they have to impart. The clients willingness, your intention and the quality of the essential oils used all participate in creating the overall effectiveness and energetics of the aromatic treatment.

This model of blending can be utilized when:

  • creating emotion based blends
  • creating blends to address spiritual/energetic issues

The framework for building a blend based upon morphology is as follows.

Step 1: Choose a ‘core’ essential oil
➞  Core essential oil
The core essential oil is chosen based upon your primary purpose/goal and is considered the heart of the synergy.

Step 2: Choose an ‘enhancer/support’ essential oil
➞  Enhancer/Support essential oil
The enhancer essential oil supports and strengthens the core essential oil in its purpose and therapeutic action.

Step 3: Choose a ‘harmonizing’ essential oil
➞  Harmonizing essential oil
The harmonizing essential oil balances and enhances the vitality and purpose of the overall synergy. The harmonizing essential oil often has a decisive impact on the overall aroma and is chosen for both its aroma and ability to enhance the goals of the synergy.

Step 4: Choose additional essential oils
➞  Additional Essential oils
If it is desired or warranted, you can decide to add 1-2 additional essential oils. These additions would be either an enhancer or harmonizing essential oil.

Morphology Case Study (by Katie Vie)

Let’s look at a case study.  A middle aged woman is disappointed with her life. She has not met the goals she set, she feels unaccomplished, and a little lost. She has recently retired and feels bored. She wonders, does she stay on the path she’s on, using her decades old skill set, or does she learn a new skill? This woman also talks endlessly, and exclusively, about her perceived failures and disappointments, churning it over and over without resolution. She also has insomnia, dull skin and a weakened immune system.

In designing an aromatherapy program for her we would want to include:

  • A nervine/sedative/relaxant to address the insomnia.
  • A restorative/circulatory stimulant/tonic to address the dull skin.
  • A tonic/detoxifier/depurative to address the weakened immune system.

In terms of Morphology we will look at some key points:

  • She seems to suffer from “emotional indigestion,” in that she is not reaching resolution to her issues.
  • She seems to be at the end of one cycle and unsure about how to start another.
  • She seems stagnant and in need of a fresh start.
  • She seems exhausted and worn down by life and her own expectations.

Continuing on with the Morphological information, a “seed oil” would be indicated here. She needs the quiet rest that a seed takes while it patiently awaits the ideal condition to sprout. She needs faith that if she takes this rest new life will stir. She needs strength to overcome the challenges ahead. She needs to feel protected, rather than vulnerable, as she waits. She needs an “emotional digestivo” to help digest and assimilate her emotional churning so she can move on.

Now, cross reference the morphological information with the actions and indications. Are there seed essential oils that are: nervine, sedative, relaxant, restorative, circulatory stimulant, tonic, detoxifier, and depurative? And which seed essential oils are “emotional digestives?”

As you will learn in a moment, seed essential oils have a natural affinity to the digestive system and hence help emotional processing and ‘digestion’.

The seed oils I chose to work with included:

Angelica seed: can support a connection with ones higher self while also helping to process and digest ones experiences

Fennel: has a strong affinity to the digestion and assimilation of experience, thoughts and relationships, supports release

With all of this information woven together her initial aromatherapy program might look like this:

  1. Once daily massage oil/abhyanga with essential oils of: angelica seed (Angelica archangelica), lemon (Citrus limon), and black pepper (Piper nigrum) blended into carrier oil (incidentally, many carrier oils are also extracted from seeds).
  2. Aromatic spray throughout the day with essential oils of:  lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), lemon (Citrus limon) and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).
  3. Twice weekly immersion bath with essential oils of: lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce) and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) blended into salts.
  4. Once daily facial steam with essential oils of: carrot seed (Daucus carota), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) dropped into steaming water.

I would also guide this client through visualizations of seeds in all of their forms: being produced by the parent plant, waiting to sprout, identifying the perfect moment to sprout, and the transformation from seed to plant. Once this client has noticed positive results from this aromatherapy program I would meet with her again to re-evaluate her situation.

Now let’s explore the morphological characteristics of each category of essential oils.


Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. Faith in a Seed – Henry D. Thoreau

Seed functions within the plant:

  • Reproduction: seeds give birth/life to the plant, becoming, propagating
  • Protective: seed pods insure the seed has potential for life by protecting it while it makes its journey

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • Growth
  • Reproductive system (particularly emotions associated around sexuality)
  • Nourishment
  • Birth, new, potential
  • Protective, cleansing of blocked energy

Seed Energy

Seeds represent the beginning of life for a plant, its potential to become and to manifest. With such a strong affinity to manifest and become, seeds naturally have an affinity for the reproductive system. They are indicated for difficulties in conceiving or conceptualizing new ideas or thoughts or states of being.

Seeds are dormant through the winter months awaiting the arrival of warmth in early spring when they begin their cycle of growth and manifestation. So we could say seed energy is linked to the season of spring, which is a time:

  • Of birth, new beginnings, potential to become, creation
  • For restoring of life, energy
  • For planting
  • Of new growth is abundant in our relationships, our lives, and our work

The vast majority of seed essential oils come from the botanical family apiaceae syn. umbelliferae and these essential oils help us to process information, digest our experiences, manifest our dreams and goals, and move us when we are feeling stuck or unable to create that which we would like to. Seeds can be used when there is a block in creative expression or an inability to move forward emotionally, seeds support new energy to come into being to transform old patterns. And finally, seeds are regenerative, helping to restore energy, confidence and health.

My graduate and friend, Katie Vie, adds this to the energy of seeds: Ultimately, seeds are potential. Seeds are protected, perfectly timed, perfectly contained life forms. They must have ideal conditions before they reveal what they contain. Some need cold and darkness, others need a forest fire. Some need to travel the length of a bird’s digestive tract. Seeds can be patient. Seeds are also about proliferation: birth, growth, reproduction and expansion. There is also an aspect of survival; thriving against challenges, overcoming things that are far bigger, and beating the odds. As humans, when we plant a seed there is faith that it will grow.  There is patience, expectation, hope and excitement. We rely on seeds to eventually grow into food that we need for survival. We all have our own experience and interpretation of “seed.”

Indicated for: inability to manifest, feelings of frustration, support growth and manifestation, lack of communication between two people, inability to digest ones food and/or experiences to gain nourishment, new beginnings, embarking upon a journey, restorative work on self, exhaustion, having difficulty conceiving ideas, boredom or inability to be in the present moment, imbalances of 2nd chakra (Svadisthana) or the Solar plexus chakra (Manipura), frigidity, hopelessness, cynicism, lack of self esteem, frustration


Creation, Movement, Reproduction, Release,
Manifest, Beginnings, Digest, Process



Roots have three main functions within the plant:

  •  to anchor the plant to a substrate (e.g. the soil)
  • to absorb valuable nutrients and water, important to plant growth
  • to produce hormones

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • to ground, provide stability
  • to nourish and support
  • to maintain homeostasis, a balance

Root Energy

Roots serve to anchor the plant into a substrate (e.g. the soil), to absorb valuable nutrients and water (important to a plants growth) and to produce hormones. Roots contain messages to ground, provide stability, to nourish and support as well as to maintain homeostasis (a balance in the body). Root essential oils provide strength and stability.

In herbal medicine roots are collected in late autumn or early winter when the plants root energy is the most potent. Late autumn and early winter represent a time of going inward, of gathering for the winter to come. Root essential oils support us going inward, being reflective and allowing us to create space to just be in the moment. Root energy is heavy, earthly, and tends to have a warming presence that supports us as we work through a challenging life situation or emotion.

Indicated for: flightiness, instability, lacking foundation to stand on, anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, need to go inward, instability, scattered, weak constitution, vata imbalance, emotional emptiness, lack of imagination, anguish, nervousness, feelings of being disconnected to life, frazzled nerves, anxiety, envy, compulsiveness, panic attacks, sensitivity, irritability, worry


Ground, Strength, Embody, To Move Within, Anchor



The trunk/wood functions within the plant:

  • to conduct water and nutrients to leaves, stems and flowers
  • to provide support

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • to conduct energy, balance
  • to give a core, support element to a blend
  • bring inward for self contemplation
  • skeletal structure

Wood Energy

The wood (trunk) is the center and strength of a tree, therefore on an emotional level, essential oils which come from the wood have the ability to provide strength and centeredness. They encourage the individual to go inward and inspire self-reflection. For example, if things are scattered or overwhelming, wood essential oils help facilitate a moving inwards, to go within our center and reflect on what is happening. Woods represent a bone-like structure and may also be useful for the skeletal or muscular system – for strengthening as well as for things like muscular aches and pains.

Woods or the trunk of the tree serves to conduct water and nutrients to leaves, stems and flowers as well as to provide support to the crown of the tree. Hence essential oils from the wood conduct energy that may be stuck or unable to move. Utilizing woods along with roots help to conduct energy downward while woods with citrus oils or flower oils help to conduct energy upward. Individuals who have a kapha – such as feelings of extreme heaviness, inability to take action, depression – imbalance would benefit from wood/citrus combinations while those with a vata imbalance – such as excess air or flightiness – would benefit from wood/root combinations.

Wood essential oils are also able to strengthen the skeletal structure so would be indicated for those who slouch or who feel physically weak. If we think about the trunk of a tree, it is always there and always powerful in its ability to hold up and withstand challenges.  When it is weak, it lets us know by breaking or falling down.

Indicated for: insecurity, lack of self esteem, need to go inward, self-reflection, need to conduct energy either upwards or downwards, weak constitution, envy, lack of connection with self, lack of centeredness, lack of stability, inability to convey or communicate from centered place of being


 Internal, Wisdom, Strength, Conduct, Provide



The resins function within the plant:

  • to heal wounds
  • to protect plant

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • heal wounds
  • skin care
  • protective
  • spiritual realm

Notes: They are known to deter insects, and some have been shown to have antibacterial properties. Historically, resins have been used for incense. Resins were also used in embalming.  Records from early Egypt indicate that myrrh and frankincense were used in the body cavity or for anointing the head of the deceased. – Plants in Our World, written by Simpson and Ogorzaly

Resin Energy

If you cut into certain trees, they will release a resinous substance which helps to protect and heal the tree. Resin essential oils therefore contain the inherent energy to protect and to heal. Resin energy is about healing and is particularly indicated for emotional wounding such as trauma, heartbreak, grieving, and separation. They are powerful when used during meditation practice to reconnect with the divine or ones spirituality.

Resins are most abundant during the summer months when they have a chance to flow due to the warmth of the sun and hence are also emotionally warming. They allow for fluid movement when aligned with ones highest purpose or dharma.

Resin essential oils are indicated for those who need to spend time reflecting on their life, the personal self and their relation with others and the world. They offer up space to be still and to connect with ones spiritual essence.

Indicated for: post-traumatic stress, emotional wounds, anxiety, feelings of frustration, irritability, lack of self esteem, spiritual void or challenges, recovery from addictions or abuse, psychic wounding, warding off negative energy, poor self esteem, lack of self love and/or nourishment, impatience, tension, worry, despondency, bitterness, anger, anxiety, hysteria


 Healing, Protection, Spirit,  Meditate, Reflect, Forgive



The leaves function within the plant:

  • photosynthesis
  • protect the plant from water loss, possibly serve to ward off insects, bacteria, fungi (pathogen resistant)
  • for respiration

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • for proper breathing (oxygen adds growth and development)
  • strong antiseptics, antibacterial
  • ward off insects

*Note: we have included grass essential oils here as they are distilled from the leaf of the grass.

Leaves and Needles Energy

Leaves and needles have a natural affinity for the respiratory system and hence are connected to the breathe and breathing. They inspire deep, expansive breathing that can lend itself to feelings of empowerment and vitality (Ojas and Prana).

Leaves and needles function within plants for photosynthesis, and if we consider photosynthesis for a moment, we can see that this is connected to the power of transformation. Leaf and needle essential oils allow for shifting in perceptions or states of being that may not be productive to an individuals life.

Essential oils from leaves and needles also carry messages to protect and ward off – they protect a plant from water loss, ward off insects – and hence also serve an important role for immunity. Leaf and needle essential oils support and enhance immunity, Ojas – our vitality.

Indicated for: lack of confidence and/or self esteem issues, shallow breathing, feelings of being hemmed in by life, contracted unable to expand, difficulty expressing emotions, stagnation, unable to shift or change/grow, lack of vitality, lack of courage, irritated, tension


Breathe, Expand, Create, Empower



The flowers function within the plant:

  • reproduction
  • to attract insects for the purpose of pollination

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • Represent love
  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • A gift
  • Emotionally and Mentally nourishing
  • Beauty

Flowers Energy

Flowers have a strong affinity with the emotional realm and have a strong feminine energy. Flowers have since antiquity represented something of beauty, relating to love and a gift of friendship, hence their ability to soothe the heart and mind. The flowers arrive on the plant in early summer and often last throughout summer, revealing its energy, vitality and relationship with the sun.

Flowers are the ultimate expression of beauty and reproduction and it is this beauty in form (along with their aroma) that is responsible for attracting insects for the purpose of pollination so that it may bear fruit and/or insure its own survival. Flowers therefore have a relationship with the reproductive system, our ability to attract, and survive difficulties. The flower inspires another generation of growth and hence gives forth life, potential and movement forward.

Essential oils from the flowers are encoded with messages representing love, compassion, forgiveness, emotional nourishment, attraction, creation, manifestation, and beauty.

Indicated for: anger, anxiety, burnout, lack of confidence, critical of others, depression, despondency, lack of empathy, emptiness, frigidity, grief, grumpiness, guilt feelings, hopelessness, hostility, jealousy, Indecision (when decision is creating anxiety), Insecurity, instability, resentment, resignation, sadness, self criticism (to bring back into body, inner awareness), self esteem issues, shyness, stress, tension, inability to forgive


Love, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Nurture, Thanks



The fruits function within the plant:

  • reproduction
  • to protect the seeds

We translate this into Aromatherapy practice as:

  • cleansing
  • refreshing
  • detoxing
  • uplifting

Zest/Fruit/Citrus Energy

If one thinks about the existence of fruit they exist outside and above the tree core.  Fruits naturally have an uplifting and cleansing effect. They are visually and aromatically uplifting. Fruits contain the message of purification – cleansing and releasing that which binds or prevents one from moving forward. They are incredibly beneficial for those who feel ‘heavy’ energetically, stuck or unable to release certain thoughts and/or feelings.

Citrus oils also have the ability to relieve anxiety and when used when roots and resins can be quite stabilizing whilst also clarifying difficult situations or allowing for movement of challenging emotions.

Fruits Energy (specifically, Black pepper)
Black pepper energy is warming and contains energy to uplift, inspire and invigorate.

Indicated for: Toxic thinking that turns in on self, Anger, Claustrophobia, Critical of others, Cynicism, Depression, Despondency, Frigidity, Grief, Grumpiness, Guilt feelings, Hopelessness, Hostility, Inability to forgive or let go, Indecision (when decision is creating anxiety), Insecurity,  Resentment, Resignation, Sadness, Stress, Tension


Cleanse, Release, Uplift, Nurture, Protect

Morphology Recipe Ideas

Inspire and Warm
For someone who is feeling depressed due to low energy, feels cold and lacks vitality.

  • 10 drops Fruit: Sweet orange – to uplift and inspire, support vitality
  • 7 drops Root: Ginger – for warmth
  • 5 drops Flower: Neroli – for acceptance and kindness to self, inspires
  • 2 drops Leaf: Pinon pine – to support vitality
  • 1 ounce Sesame oil – warming

Grief Inhaler

  • 5 drops Flower: Rose – nourishing the heart
  • 10 drops Fruit: Tangerine – warms and comforts while gentle uplift
  • 3 drops Root: Jatamansi – connects with grieving process, spiritual support
  • 5 drops Resin: Frankincense – healing, protective

Expand the Breath: Revitalize Inhaler

  • 12 drops Leaf: Laurel – energizing, expands the breath
  • 12 drops Leaf: Eucalyptus globulus – energizing, deepens and expands the breath
  • 5 drops Needle: Fir – expands breathing space

Ground Yourself: Massage oil
For individuals who need to be brought into their bodies, into their core for self reflection and stabilizing.

  • 7 drops Root: Vetiver – grounding
  • 10 drops Wood: Cedarwood – draws into core for self reflection
  • 5 drops Resin: Elemi – for insight and healing
  • 1 ounce Sesame or Jojoba oil