Essential Oil Profile: Ylang Ylang

By Amelia E. Stone, RN


Common Name: Ylang Ylang

Latin Binomial: Cananga odorata

Family: Annonaceae

Other Common Names: Cananga Oil, ilang ilang

Production Method: distillation, fractional distillation

Countries of Origin: Indonesia

Typical Constituents: Linalool (13.6%), Geranyl acetate (5.3%), Caryophyllene (1.7%), p-Cresyl metyl ether (16.5%), Methyl benzoate (8.7%), Benzyl acetate (25.1%), Benzyl benzoate (2.2%), other sesquiterpenes (7.4%)

Description of Oil: pale yellow, powerfully floral and intensely sweet sensual odour.

Description of Plant: A fast growing, tropical, aromatic tree with large shiny oval leaves.  When the flowers mature they are yellow-green and exude an intense aroma at night.

History, Folklore and Myth:  The name Ylang Ylang has been interpreted as ‘flower of flowers’.  ‘A crown in the East’ known as ‘the perfume tree’.  Traditionally mixed with coconut oil and used by women as a hair dressing in the South Seas.

Properties and Uses: Antidepressant, Antiseptic, Aphrodisiac, Hypotensive, Sedative

Precautions and Contraindications:  HAZARDS: Skin sensitization (moderate risk)

CAUTIONS (DERMAL): Hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin, children under 2 years of age.


Other Interesting Information: Described as having a narcotic scent.  Sometimes referred to as ‘poorman’s Jasmine’.

References: Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Shaftesbury, Dorset. Element Books. 1995.

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005

Shutes, Jade. Advanced Aromatherapy Certification Program. East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. 2014

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