Cette billet dédiée à mon ami merveille des Live Spaces, J J du Pyrenées !
This past summer when I was working both in my P.C. lab and my studio (involves continually going up and down stairs) I smelled the aroma of my favorite flower, Ylang-ylang. I tried to track down the source of the scent but could not explain it and I had several other people go to the base of the stairs to sniff and they described the scent of a flower I have loved, along with my best friend Debbie, since adolescence. While I never did track down the reason why that scent came for about an hour and then went away as mysteriously as it came, I got a little curious about its origin since I have never really known any particulars about it at all. I did some internet research on it this year and the following information is my discovery and summation. Perhaps J J can tell me more if he is familiar with this curious but diffusely-endowed flower.
Because it has a very light but pervasive scent I had prejudged it to be of exotic origin. In several accounts I have heard of this scent being compared to jasmine and neroli and I agree that the intensity is matched but it has a uniqueness that really cannot be compared to other flowers. The aromatic components of the essential oil, which I keep a vial of at all times, are benzyl acetate, linalool, p-cresyl methyl ether and methyl benzoate. When the scent is produced artificially, however, it is always too heavy and must be diluted sometimes 20 to 1 with exotic water. This most famous perfume which makes use of ylang-ylang as one of its components is Chanel No. 5 but is not used as a high note and most likely only uses a very small dose. My personal opinion is that ylang-ylang should be worn alone and if you use the essential oil you must dilute it to the degree I’ve already mentioned for use in summer. This can be adjusted to suit you, by the way.
The flower itself is not visually beautiful to the eye. This close up of the usually yellow blooms can be pink but the pink color is very rare. It is shaped like a sea star, as this one is, and generally curly appearing almost like tiny amorphus bananas. This particular cananga- which is its genus- is from the annonaceae family along the order of magnolias. Its binomial name is cananga odorata forma genuina. It grows on trees which grow fast, exceeding 5 meters a year generally attaining a height of around 12 meters in maturity. The tree itself is found in rainforests and native to the Philippines and Indonesia and is most commonly grown in Polynesian countries (i.e. Melansia and Micronesia.) As a matter of fact the name is from the Tagalog language (the Philippine language) and can mean both rare and wild, interchangeably.
In addition to producing the flowers, the cananga tree also produces fruit which turns out to be an important food item for birds, in particular various types of pigeons and doves which are native to Polynesian countries, as well. A related species to this tree is the Cananga fruticosa, basically a dwarf version of the above mentioned cananga odorata forma genuina. The essential oil I mentioned up above is also used to relieve high blood pressure, normalize sebum production for those with skin blemish problems and is also considered an aphrodisiac. Margaret Mead did research on ylang-ylang in the Solomon Islands and found the latter claim to be in serious use for such purpose. Apparently it is a common practice in the Philippines for the flowers to be spread on the bed for newlywed couples. They are also used to make leis for women and on religious symbols! A component of the flower is also an ingredient in the motion sickness medicine, MotionEaze !
The Castle Lady easing on down the road
and blowing healthy kisses your way !