The Ylang Ylang Tree with the Sweet Smelling Flowers

My mother recently wrote an article that I just had to post here on the Ylang Ylang Tree.  I remember this tree growing up on Guam.  Its flowers had the best aroma and you could smell it in the jungles.

Enjoy the article!

I was coming up towards U.S. Naval Hospital from Adelup one evening with my car windows opened when I inhaled a sweet fragrance in the breeze.I believe I know what you had experienced. On both sides of Hospital Road as you come around the curves there are several tall trees with clusters of hanging flowers, greenish to deep yellow, which give fragrant aroma like perfume. The trees bloom year around with these attractive and sweet smelling flowers. We called this tree Ylang-Ylang (EE-lang-EE-lang) tree. The leaves are deep green.

I always thought this tree as native to Guam, but, in my research, I found out that the Philippines introduced the tree to Guam. Ylang-Ylang flowers were used as adornments for the hair and made into flower necklaces or, in modern terms, leis as I remembered from my youth.

What is so interesting—the Ylang-Ylang tree is native to the Indo-Malayan region. Its scientific name is Cananga Odorata (Ylang-Ylang) and belongs to the Annonaceae, custard-apple family.

What is the value of the flowers? These flowers give heavy and sweet aroma similar to jasmine. Many places have extracted essential oil from them. According to written accounts, the oil comes in three grades. Steam distillation is used to extract this oil; the longer the process the oil aroma is heavier. The oil can be overpowering over other aromatic oils. The Ylang-Ylang oils are used in making perfumes and in aromatheraphy.

The flowers as well as the oils are popular in certain areas of the Pacific for weddings and honeymoons. There are people who add a few drops of Ylang-Ylang oil in hot baths as stress-relieving properties. In addition, some people who are particularly sensitive to strong smells may find the scent too overpowering and that it may cause headaches. Written studies also laud the use of Ylang-Ylang oils for massaging with soothing and calming effects.

Other suggestions include adding a few drops to a candle, next to the wick, not on it. The exotic fragrance will fill the room, providing a very relaxed atmosphere.

Another suggestion is to add one or two drops to your hairbrush and then brush your hair. The result is hair smelling great as well as conditioning naturally. The written accounts further believed the oils stimulate hair growth. Ylang-Ylang oil can also be blended with other oils and the fragrance comes through with a marvelous contrast.

Some of the Pacific islanders used the Ylang-Ylang wood for canoe parts, furniture, fuel wood and cordage. The bark is used as medicine for stomach problems and as a laxative by the Tongans and Samoans.

The dried flowers are used against malaria and fresh flowers are pounded into a paste for Asthma. There are many more written accounts of the Ylang-Ylang tree and the importance of essential oils that come from the flowers. (Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry, April 2006, Ver.2.1, Harley I. Manner and Craig R. Elevitch)

Finally, Ylang-Ylang oil is indeed important to the perfume industry. Distilled oil is shipped to France. Many popular perfumes use Ylang-Ylang oil, such as Chanel number 5 and Guerlain.

I think each homeowner should have an Ylang-Ylang tree in its yard. The tree flowers all through the year and your home will be surrounded with the exotic, sweet aroma of the Ylang-Ylang flowers.

si Joyce I. Martratt





3 thoughts on “The Ylang Ylang Tree with the Sweet Smelling Flowers

  1. This was a most interesting read from someone who lives in Denmark (Scandinavia), I use the essential oil of ylang-ylang as a claming and relaxing oil when my life becomes too stressful.

    I also use it as an aphrodisiac 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, I love the photos and can smell the trees.

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