By Ashley Kowalewski Piña coladas, flowers, sunshine: One sniff of…
By Deborah Fulsang
Beautiful by Estée Lauder, Classique by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Soleia: All of these scents share a glamorous, sparkling largesse. They are big and sunny and velvety. That character we can attribute, at least in part, to the presence of ylang-ylang.
Ylang-ylang is the Tagalog word for “flower of flowers,” the academic Richard Stamelman points out in his perfume tome, “Perfume: A Cultural History of Fragrance from 1750 to the Present”. He also mentions that the ylang-ylang flower and its oil has been referred to as the “poor man’s jasmine,” and that it was introduced into European perfumery via the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878.
The Cananga odorata plant, a smooth-barked evergreen tree, grows in South Asia and Madagascar; its flowers have six heavily fragrant, narrow, greenish-yellow petals, the scent of which is harvested via steam distillation. There is also a climbing ylang-ylang plant of the same family that is used in perfumery. Ylang-ylang also bears clusters of black fruit.
Homeopathic practitioners have used ylang-ylang oil for its calming abilities, especially on the heart. Our digging at www.homeopathtyler.wordpress.com also unearthed the details that ylang-ylang petals are also sprinkled across the bed of newlywed couples on their wedding nights; and that in the Philippines, traditional practitioners have long used ylang-ylang to treat all manner of wounds, from insect and snake bites to cuts and burns.
We haven’t had the test the efficacy of ylang-ylang when employed as a balm against a snake bite, but its perfume power is legendary. Perhaps its biggest claim to fame: Its defining presence in the world’s best-selling fragrance, Chanel No.5.