Ylang ylang’s name means ‘flower of flowers’ due to its amazingly complex floral scent and is pronounced ee-lang ee-lang. The tropical cananga or ylang ylang tree yields fragrant pink, mauve or yellow flowers and is cultivated in Java, Sumatra, Reunion, Madagascar, and the Comores. In Indonesia, the flower petals are strewn upon the bed on wedding nights. Ylang ylang essential oil has a sweet, exotic floral aroma and a slight yellow color.
The essential oil is extracted from the freshly picked flowers by water or steam distillation. The first distillation is called ylang ylang extra, which is the top grade. An absolute and concrete are also produced by solvent extraction. There are different pressings of ylang ylang oil – called ‘extra’ and then 1st, 2nd and 3rd pressing. The extra is the very first pressing and contains the highest amounts of esters and therefore has the sweetest odor, while the later pressings are less sweet. The oil from ylang ylang is widely used in perfumery for oriental or floral themed perfumes (i.e. Chanel No. 5).
Ylang ylang is known for its euphoric, aphrodisiac, sedative, antidepressant, and stress-relieving properties. A soothing, balancing and calming oil, ylang ylang is useful for anxiety, frustration, and overwork. It has a balancing and stimulating effect on the skin and works to correct sebum production and also stimulate hair growth.