Latin name: Cananga odorata
Plant Part: Fresh Flowers
Cananga odorata physical description
Cananga odorata is a tropical Asian tree of the custard-apple family; it is medium sized, approximately 39 Feet tall at maturity. The main trunk is generally bent to some degree, and the bark is smooth and grayish white to silvery. The branches are slightly erect with a bit of drooping, giving the Cananga tree an asymmetrical appearance. It is a fast-growing tree that can exceed 16ft within a year and has the ability to regenerate rapidly when damaged.
The leaves are dark green in color, approximately 8 inches in length, alternate, elliptic-oblong with a prominent midrib. The ylang ylang flower hangs in umbellate clusters of four to 12 flowers, having three sepals and six petals, and approximately 2.5 inches long. The petals are twisted when young and then limp and drooping when mature. Ylang ylang flowers are greenish yellow when immature, turning to a deep yellow once mature. The fragrant smell of ylang ylang is not dominating when the flowers are immature, but becomes more pronounced at maturity.
The fruit of the ylang ylang is greenish black in color, approximately 1 inch in size, and borne in axillary clusters of 6 to 12, resembling the olive. There are also 6 to 12 small, pale, brown flattened ovoid seeds within each fruit.
The Cananga tree has a long taproot and, therefore, favors deep soils. The Cananga tree can grow in light, medium and heavy texture soils, thriving in rich volcanic or fertile sandy soils, and can tolerate water logging for short periods, but requires free drainage. The Cananga tree grows best in full sunlight but can also tolerate moderate shading.
The Cananga plant is native to the Philippines and Indonesia and is commonly grown in Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia; therefore preferring a habitat of lowland, and humid tropics region. In Madagascar, the trees flower year-round, but mainly during the rainy season from November to March.
Ylang ylang qualities, extraction and chemical composition
There are four varieties of ylang ylang essential oil, depending on the stage and method of distillation: the earliest “Ylang Ylang extra” is the first distillate, and is the lightest oil, with the most exquisite fragrance; the middle distillate, called ylang ylang II; and the final distillate having the smokiest and deepest fragrance. Ylang ylang “complete” is either a blend of all three stages of the distillation process, or an uninterrupted distillation process. Ylang ylang has a sweet and narcotic fragrance.
”Ylang ylang” results from the process of steam distillation of the flowers of the Cananga tree; and the flowers should be distilled immediately after harvesting. Small, traditional stills yield about 1% oil; while large modern stills can yield as much as 2%; and delayed distillation of the ylang ylang flower reduces the quantity of oil extraction. Flowers are best collected in the early morning hours while dew is present and best distilled immediately after harvesting. The Comoro Islands and Madagascar are major producers of ylang ylang.
The main aromatic components of ylang ylang oil are: benzyl acetate, linalool, p-cresyl methyl ether, and methyl benzoate. Sesquiterpenes and esters. “Ylang Ylang extra” has higher terpene alcohol content.
Ylang ylang properties, therapeutic uses and applications
Ylang ylang speaks to our Heart on every level, and reminds us of acceptance within ourselves as well as others. Very much an aid for heart palpitations, when applied topically, ylang ylang can have a remarkable effect, as with hypertension and tachycardia. Ylang ylang is also an aid for high blood pressure, and can help normalize sebum secretion for skin issues.
Ylang ylang is harmonizing to the mind, and calming to the Central nervous system, and can be an effective aid for controlling epilepsy by simply inhaling the fragrance at the onset of a seizure. Ylang ylang is a stimulant to the scalp, and a preventive aid for hair loss; mitigates insomnia and pre-menstrual syndrome; it is also an aid for infections of the intestinal tract, malaria and typhus (an infectious bacterial disease).
Ylang ylang aids with depression, anxiety, tension, stress, shyness, impatience, resentment, and rejection by “opening the heart and reminding us of new magical possibilities within the realm of loving relationships.” Ylang ylang has a calming nature, and ushers in joy and warmth within our life. Ylang ylang is Euphoric and sensuous, being an aphrodisiac which unifies our emotional and sensual natures.
Ylang ylang can be used to enhance assertiveness, contentment, focus, joy, self-awareness, self-esteem and self-image. Ylang ylang is an essence that whispers to us, “What would love do now?”
The history and folklore of Cananga odorata
Known as “ylang ylang”, “Perfume Tree”, “Cananga”, “Cadmia”, ylang ylang is planted in many home gardens in the pacific islands for ornamental purposes. The fruit is a preferred food of pigeons in Guam, Tonga, and Samoa; and is also eaten by bats, monkeys and squirrels. In the Pacific, the wood is often used for small canoes and parts, furniture, fuel wood, and cordage (the bark being pounded to make coarse rope.)
The fragrant ylang ylang flowers are used to scent coconut oil, known as Macassar oil (used as a hair dressing in the South Pacific), and in the making of lei’s and headdresses. In the Cook Islands the wood is used for making boxes and crates, clogs or wooden shoes and fishnet floats; and ylang ylang is a very important source of flowers in Micronesia and Polynesia where they are used for garlands, headdresses and other personal adornment.
Ylang ylang is also a primary commercial product of the perfume industry; it is shipped to France, where it is the basis for Chanel #5 and perfumes by Guerlain; and ylang ylang’s essential oil makes up 29% of the Comoros’ annual exports (1998). Ylang ylang is also used in “MotionEaze”, a motion sickness medicine. In Tonga and Samoa the bark is used to treat stomach ailments; and can be used as a laxative. In Java, the dried flowers are used to protect against Malaria, and the fresh flowers are pounded into a paste to treat asthma. In Indonesia, ylang ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples.
“Ylang ylang you have warmed my heart and calmed my mind. You have given me the sweet reminder of loving magic that awaits my spirit. You have awakened the possibilities that provoke the god/goddess within. As your calming elixir soothes me, and reminds me of the sweetness I can taste within each moment. I move into a patient surrender of spirit, as I know the transcendence which is constantly unfolding in my life. I am reminded all is within reach and ever so grateful for the beautiful gifts you impart upon my essential nature, now shared!”
© 2011-2015 Robin Michaels, Cosmic Essential oils, All rights reserved
With Gratitude and Love