Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Profile

YLANG YLANG Cananga odorata var. genuina

Botanical Family Annonaceae

Cananga odorata (syn. C. odoratum var. macrophylla), a close relative, yields cananga oil.


Ylang Ylang means "flower of flowers".
Ylang Ylang is a tropical tree growing up to 60-80 feet. The tree has large ovate leaves, and is laden with large, narrow and _ drooping, creamy-yellow blossoms having a sweet, heady scent.
Native to the Phillipines and to Indonesia, it is cultivated in Madagascar, Reunion, and Nossi Be and the Comoro Islands, Zanzibar, and Haiti. (Most commercially available oil comes from Madagascar, Reunion, and the Comoro Islands). Wild trees have relatively little fragrance compared with cultivated varieties. The best oil is derived from trees grown at high elevations and in dry soil.

Traditional Uses

In its native region, ylang ylang has been combined with coconut oil to form an ointment or pomade. This was rubbed into the body to prevent fevers or infectious diseases, and into the hair for fragrance. Ylang Ylang is thought by many to be aphrodisiac; its fragrance and character does evoke the mood of its langorous and romantic tropical environment.

The oil is steam distilled from the blossoms.
(absolutes are also produced using a chemical solvent). Blossoms must be harvested in the morning and immediately distilled on-site. Whereas cananga oil is sold as a "complete" oil, ylang ylang is fractionated; the first distillate is the top grade oil, called ylang ylang extra. Successive distillates, identified as 1,2, and 3, have a less desirable fragrance. A "complete'' is the unfractionated oil; a blend of grades 1 and 2 is sometimes sold as a complete. Ylang ylang extra is desirable for perfumes; a true complete is desirable for aromatherapy (unfortunately the top fraction is often left out.)