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Ylang Ylang

Cananga odorata. f. genuina

Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) is a tree of the Annonaceae family, native to South-East Asia.

Its Malay name means ”flower of flowers”. Its bark is grey; its bright green persistent leaves are arranged regularly along its long branches. The bunches of yellow flowers exhale a penetrating odour. Wild trees can grow to a height of twenty metres, but when cultivated, it is restricted to two or three metres to facilitate harvesting, which starts when the petals wither and their reddish base appears.

Main aromatic molecules: Sesquiterpenes (germacrene-D, α-farnesene, beta-caryophyllene), monoterpenols (linalool), esters (benzyl acetate, benzoate and salicylate).
Family: Annonaceae.
Producing organs: Flowers.
Yield: 1.8 to 2.4 kg of essential oil per 100 kg of flowers.
Equivalence: 1 ml → 31 drops (dosage calculated for a calibrated dropper European Pharmacopoeia).


Skin application

Oral route

Respiratory route

Just as the orang-utan, its neighbour in the animal world embodies the brutal force of the male, ylang-ylang, thanks to its flowers, is the odor di femina of the plant kingdom. It is reminiscent of Gauguin’s vahinés, the fantasy of Europeans and dream of the southern sea navigators. Aware of the effect of the ”flower of flowers” on men, Indonesian women macerate it in coconut oil, which they then apply to their dark hair. They also spread ylang-ylang onto the bride and bridegroom’s bed to ensure that the wedding night is a success. Our perfumers have used this exotic and erotic fragrance extensively, from ”Bois des Îles” by Coco Chanel (1926) to ”Joy” by Jean Patou (1930). In traditional tropical medicine, ylang-ylang is used, amongst others, to treat malaria.


Extracts from the book ’Aromatherapia – All about essential oils’, by Isabelle Pacchioni, watercolors by Patrick MORIN, Aroma Thera Editions . Extracts from the book ’41 essential oils essential for treating yourself differently’ and ’48 essential oils which every home needs to be healthy’ by Isabelle Delaleu and Isabelle Pacchioni, Publications of the Mandadori France group. Botanical illustrations by Agathe Haevermans.

The properties, benefits and method of use are given for information; they cannot in any case constitute or replace medical information that only health professionals can provide. For any use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, please consult your GP or pharmacist.

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