Although your first encounter with a Ylang Ylang tree might feel like a novelty experience, chances are high that it’s been ever-present in your life. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) is a worldwide pop culture staple, its fragrance famously serving as one of the key notes in Chanel No. 5, the first perfume launched by Coco Chanel in 1921. The treasured tropical fragrance of the Ylang Ylang tree is emitted from its cascading ringlets of yellow flowers. Simply approaching a Ylang Ylang tree in the midst of its blooming time will sweep you away with its invigorating, jasmine-like scent. You will find that the most experienced perfume alchemist cannot perfectly match the natural scent of a Ylang Ylang in bloom.
Growing the Ylang Ylang tree requires mimicry of climate conditions in its native locales of tropical Asia. In the right climate, Cananga odorata will grow remarkably quickly, soaring up to 60 feet in height. Fortunately, it can be pruned back to control growth, and harvested often for its deliciously scented flowers. Fruit and flower production typically begins within 2 years of growth. The flowers are best harvested once fully mature, when they will deepen to a golden yellow, and at night, when they emit the most fragrance. Flowers can be used purely aesthetically, or to make ylang ylang essential oil, Cananga odorata bears aggregate clusters of black, mild-tasting berries, which are used in traditional Asian medicine for headaches, digestive issues, itching, and more.
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