Ylang Ylang benefits and history
The tree grows to a height of 60 feet, and there are three varieties with different coloured flowers - pink, mauve and yellow. The best essential oil comes from the yellow flowered tree. The finest of all comes from flowers picked early in the morning in early summer.
There are several grades of ylang ylang essential oil as it is produced by fractional distillation. The first distillation is called ylang-ylang extra, which is the purest and finest. Then comes ylang ylang 1, 2 and 3. The 'extra' is not used in aromatherapy, but used in the perfume industry.
For aromatherapy purposes, the 'extra' is mixed with the first and second pressings (ylang ylang 1 and 2) and the resultant oil is known as ylang ylang complete. This is what we use in aromatherapy.
Ylang ylang essential oil appears to work best when it is blended with other essential oils. However, it can be overpowering, so it is best to use it in small amounts whether on its own or in a blend.
Native to southeast Asia, the Phillippines and Indonesia, it is now cultivated in Madagascar, the Reunion and Comoro Islands.
The ylang ylang tree was first described as Arbor saguisen by the English explorer and botanist John Ray (1628-1705). Later on, other explorers named it Borga cananga and
Unona odorata. Albert Schwenger was the first person to distil ylang ylang when he was stranded in Manilla with his mobile still in 1860.
The French introduced ylang ylang to Reunion in 1770 as an ornamental tree, and by 1892 had undertaken large scale planting in Reunion, Madagascar and the Comoros islands.
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