Ylang-ylang means "flower of flowers." The trees, bearing fragrant drooping yellow flowers, are grown for the perfume trade in R‚union. The oil varies greatly because of climatic and botanical differences. The four commercial grades are: Extra (the finest, first distillation), One, Two and Three. There is also the less expensive cananga oil, with an inferior scent. Rich in terpenes and low in esters.
Extraction: Distilled from flowers. The intensely sweet odor is heady (described by some as bananalike) and floral. Absolute, concrete.
Medicinal Action: A strong sedative, ylang-ylang is antispasmodic and helps lower blood pressure.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Used as a hair tonic and to balance oil production in all skin types, although most often recommended for oily and problem skin.
Emotional Attribute: The fragrance makes the senses more acute and tempers depression, fear, jealousy, anger and frustration. It is aphrodisiac in low doses.
Considerations: High concentrations can produce headaches or nausea.
Champac (Michelia champaca) --From Indonesia and India, this heady scent is quite expensive, so it is sometimes adulterated with ylang-ylang. It has long been extracted into vegetable oil. Today it is mostly cultivated in the Philippines and is available as a concrete and absolute.
Cananga (type macrophylla)-Rich in terpenes and low in esters, this oil has an inferior scent.