Ylang-Ylang (Fijian: Mokosoi)

Cananga odorata (Annonaceae)

Characteristics

Fast-growing tree (can grow more than 5 m per year). Evergreen leaves, smooth and glossy. Flower with six narrow, greenish-yellow petals, rather like a sea star in appearance. Flowers with highly fragrant essential oil.

Distribution

Native from India to Southeast Asia up to Australia. Commonly grown in Madagascar, Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and the Comoros Islands.

Natural Medical Properties

The flowers, and the essential oil obtained from them, are antipruritic, antifungal, antiseptic and sedative, relieving tension, lowering blood pressure and reducing fever.

They are also said to be aphrodisiac.

The dried flowers are used in the treatment of malaria and the fresh flowers are made into a paste for treating asthma.

Applied externally, they are used to treat skin irritations, conjunctivitis, boils and gout.

They are added to bath water to treat impotence and frigidity.

The essential oil is important in aromatherapy, where it is used in the treatment of tachycardia, rapid breathing, hypertension, gastrointestinal infections and psycho-sexual complaints.
The flowers are harvested of a night time and dried for infusions or distilled for their essential oil.
The leaves are used in a treatment for diarrhoea in infants.

The leaves are also used in a remedy for treating boils.

They are rubbed on the skin to treat itch.
The bark is applied against scurf.

An infusion of the bark is used for treating stomach ailments such as pains, indigestion and colic.

Fluid from the pressed bark is used in treating toothaches and migraine headaches.
The seed has been used externally to cure intermittent fever.

Did you know?

The Ylang-Ylang tree is valued for the perfume extracted from its flowers. It is an essential oil and used in perfumery for oriental- or floral-themed perfumes (such as Chanel No. 5). The oil is also used in aromatherapy.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species