03 Jul2005

Ilang Ilang or Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) flowers have an ilang1incredibly powerful fragrance, particularly in enclosed spaces. Also known as the “Perfume Tree” in English, the tree is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the South Pacific Islands. This somewhat well-known flower (I knew what it was but never really saw a tree until recently) is actually rather famous because its fresh floral and slightly fruity scent is the base ingredient for Coco Chanel’s fragrance Chanel No. 5 which was first introduced back in 1923 and has since sold millions of bottles. The essential oils of the Ilang Ilang are extracted by steaming the flowers and distilling the liquid.

A few days ago near a Batangas market, I spied a lady hunched ilang2over a laundry basin filled with hundreds of yellow flowers that turned out to be freshly picked Ilang Ilang. On closer inspection, she was threading the flowers into “necklaces” of about 15 blooms each that she was going to sell for PHP5 each. I asked her where she got the flowers and she just looked up at the sky. Towering above us was a spectacular and clearly ancient Ilang Ilang tree filled with blooms. The tree’s branches tend to droop downwards and clusters of the yellow flowers are located down the length of the branches. Her son just climbs up and extracts the flowers that are “ripe” which I presume means are close to their peak fragrance.

I purchased several necklaces of the flowers and hung a few from ilang3our car mirror (here shown with the vendor in the background, in front of the car) for the short drive back to the house (a pet peeve, those hanging flowers in cars because they can be rather distracting, what more those horses in the back window with bobbing heads!). Within 5 minutes, the car was redolent with an almost cloying scent. I didn’t particularly like it but it was nevertheless impressive. Back home, I removed the blooms from the thread and put them in a glass bowl that I left in an enclosed living room. A few hours later I entered the room and it was as if my mom had just had a tea with 8 friends that were all over spritzed with Chanel No. 5!!! Whoa! One could say overload. Maybe they would be good in the bathroom in small doses…



  1. anna gan says:

    Had a lecturer (RP culture/history) who once informed us that the Philippines had old ylang-ylang plantations which were burned down during the American Occupation. I wonder why.

    Jul 4, 2005 | 9:07 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Anna I have no idea why they would do such a thing. Any history buffs out there know the answer? I did a cursory search for information but didn’t find anything interesting.

    Jul 4, 2005 | 7:09 pm

  4. IvanM says:

    We once visited the town of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacan and passed by an ilang ilang plantation along the highway. Reflecting the state of agriculture in our country, that supposed ilang ilang plantation doesnt receive the necessary support it needed from the powers to be so I guess it’ll be the French who’ll be maximising the flower’s fullest potential while we’ll be forever selling it as offerings to the santos (There’s not much ilang ilang these days, even in churches, most are just sampaguita leis)
    Btw,there’s a street in Binondo thats still called Ilang-ilang, hinting of the days when we were exporting this flower abroad. Today, the street remains but not a tree of Ilang ilang.

    Jul 4, 2005 | 7:47 pm

  5. schatzli says:

    thank you for that ylang ylang photo I have never seen.
    As for channel 5 I asked my husband once he said wait till you are 50 dear and you get it.
    I use other channel though!

    Why cant this flowers be exported????

    Jul 4, 2005 | 9:27 pm

  6. ANNE says:

    Surely ylang-ylang has great scent. But having it beside neigboors house at four corners is not enjoyable. One of them was requested to cut down by my sister. Because it so fragrant that it gives us headache everyday. But there are still 3 trees in the corner :) away from my sisters house.

    Jul 5, 2005 | 1:59 am

  7. Marketman says:

    I suspect IvanM is right in that we do not support agriculature the way that would make sense. We supply raw materials almost always and very few downstream products. We get the least amount of money even though we have the goods. For example ylang-ylang essence is incredibly pricey but we probably only get a fraction of that. Also, there are companies around the world that make flavorings (calamansi and dalandan being some of the chicest in Europe) and yet they are foreign companies that develop and market the flavor concentrates, not Filipino companies, sad but true. Anna, I can completely understand the headaches, this stuff is wicked strong!

    Jul 5, 2005 | 5:37 am

  8. Maricel says:

    We had a huge ylang-ylang tree in my Lola’s backyard. And yes, ylang-ylang in an enclosed space is just too much. Our family has always preferred the mellow scent of the white champaca to perfume the air around the house. We make it a point to plant a white champaca tree in our homes. Like the ylang-ylang, the yellow champaca has a cloying scent too. If anyone is interested in buying white champaca trees, I spotted 6 ft. tall specimens at the Manila Seedling Bank.

    Jul 5, 2005 | 12:17 pm

  9. IvanM says:


    The signs are very telling. As you pass by the North
    Luzon Highway, there are endless stretches of rice fields
    but just a few specks of rice actually being planted.
    And when you go to the Banawe Rice Terraces, the rice
    that they plant there apparently isnt enough to even feed
    the Ifugaos themselves!
    Ever wonder why a kilo of Cebu manggoes is more expen
    sive than a kilo of Ponkan? I also think that we dont get
    enough of the good stuff to ourselves (theyre always

    Jul 5, 2005 | 1:38 pm

  10. princhette says:

    i need processes regarding ilang-ilang…. why is it that u you dont have any? i’m looking forward to your response….ASAP goodbless

    Jul 18, 2005 | 2:12 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    Princhette,…. WHAT??? I haven’t the foggiest clue what you seek? What are processes regarding ilang-ilang? And why should I have any? And why should I respond to an unstated or unclear question? Hello, am I the only one wondering what this is about??? Perhaps the quick answer is I don’t have processes and never will and that is my response…and may Allah and Buddha shine wisdom upon you too. This is by no means an exhaustive site. Read it, enjoy it or move on. I am not being mean, just frank.

    Jul 18, 2005 | 6:44 pm

  12. Precious says:

    last april, at the orchid show at the ny botanical garden, i saw an ilang-ilang tree and a champaca tree in one of the greenhouses. i damn near wept. it smelled so much like home. i haven’t been to the philippines since i was little. it’s such a shame that such a unique fragrance that should be so marketable outside asia isn’t.

    Nov 26, 2005 | 12:19 pm

  13. Reddy Palomera says:

    i would like to enter the ilang-ilang plantation business. what are the requirements? how much money are we talking about to start the business? where and when is the training or seminar regarding the business? i am really interested.

    Feb 2, 2006 | 9:33 am

  14. Marketman says:

    Reddy, I don’t have the answers you are seeking…

    Feb 2, 2006 | 12:27 pm


    I am interested in planting ilang ilang but I dont know where to buy the seedlings or the plant. Please inform me the procedure on how to grow and plant this tree or where to buy if there is any. I am from the Philippines a province of Davao City. Thank you and God bless.

    Mar 26, 2006 | 3:18 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Philamer, as with the enquiry above, unfortunately, I have no idea where to buy your seedlings of ilang-ilang or how to go about planting a plantation of it! Perhaps the Department of Agriculture in Davao can help? Or the Manila Seedling Bank in Manila?

    Mar 26, 2006 | 3:29 pm

  17. Marketman says:

    Philamer et al, I just got back from the FTI Taguig AANI weekend market and there is a vendor there that sells ilang-ilang seedlings, actually already small trees at about 5 feet tall… I hope that helps!

    Apr 8, 2006 | 5:11 pm

  18. Porfie Gros says:

    I’m in San Diego, California, USA. I would appreciate if someone can provide me with an address of the FTI Taguig AANI,
    or the vendor there that is selling Ilang-Ilang seedlings or small trees.

    Oct 12, 2006 | 6:58 am

  19. icfreese says:


    Oct 24, 2006 | 5:04 am

  20. Marketman says:

    icfreese, the photo in the post above is the only one I have of the ilang-ilang here in the Philippines…

    Oct 24, 2006 | 7:13 am

  21. Ben Middleton says:

    Norm Beard may have the tree you are looking for.
    I know he has White Champaca.

    Norm Beard
    200 Ellwood Ridge Road
    Goleta, CA 93117
    (805) 968-0989

    Oct 25, 2006 | 2:18 pm

  22. sumicue says:

    I enjoyed reading the exchanges that went on. Yes, we should revive Ilang-ilang as a commodity. But it will need lots of capital and brain work. Anyone who is ready with both?

    Nov 3, 2006 | 3:30 am

  23. paul floremonte says:

    good day!i would like to ask information about ilang-ilang flowers, that where i could sell or market? is there a possible simenars about it?thanks & more powers

    May 2, 2007 | 2:11 pm

  24. asha says:


    I’m looking into many of the sites for ilang-ilang flowers but not seeds or oils or anythings else. We would like to offer these flowers in parties especially for ladies as its our tradition . So plz let us know the availability of flowers only.

    Thanks & reply to me asap at your convience.

    May 20, 2007 | 2:43 am

  25. Porfie Gros says:

    To Sumicue,

    Have you received any response regarding the reviving of the
    Ilang Ilang commodity? Let me know, there are people I know
    who will be interested.

    I am in North County of San Diego, California.

    May 28, 2007 | 10:20 pm

  26. josie m. tahanlangit says:

    Where in the California, where I can buy the Ilangilang Ilangilang tree. I need at least three trees and how much is it. Thank You Josie

    Jul 7, 2007 | 11:30 am

  27. Mo says:


    I was at the San Francisco Chinatown on Clement street today and saw several ilangilang trees for sale. Around 6-8 feet tall, prices were $85-$135.

    Jul 16, 2007 | 11:58 am

  28. aida mendoza says:

    They sell ilang-ilang trees about 2-3 ft. tall in the
    flower mart of San Francisco between Brannan & 6th Street, it cost around $65.00 if you are willing to gamble your money, good luck and hope it grows lots of fragrant flowers!

    Aug 8, 2007 | 5:26 pm

  29. claire yap says:

    Thanks sa ilang-ilang nakakuha kami ng idea para sa research namin.


    Jul 22, 2008 | 11:30 am

  30. tess says:

    how could i produce perfume out of those ylang-ylang flowers..ty

    Nov 30, 2008 | 1:51 pm

  31. Porfie Lucas Gros says:

    From Mo….I was at the San Francisco Chinatown on Clement street today and saw several ilangilang trees for sale. Around 6-8 feet tall, prices were $85-$135.

    Mo, Do you anyone who purchased Ilang Ilang at the San
    Francisco Chinaton on Clemet Street? Did it survived?

    Feb 1, 2009 | 12:28 am

  32. Raymond Pastrana says:

    I have an Ylang Ylang Tree about 15 ft. High with a diameter of about 5 inches. I’m selling it for $100.00. Must be dig out by buyer. I live in Merritt Island, Fl.Phone 407-719-7855 Cell. look@bonitahomes.us

    Thanks, Ray

    Feb 11, 2009 | 3:11 pm

  33. dr manisha acharya says:

    i want to know supplier for Ilang Ilang or Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)Dry Flower

    Mar 2, 2009 | 8:50 pm

  34. servillano says:

    ( Cananga Odorata )
    Available in limited quantities only.

    a) Flowers
    b) Seeds
    c) Seedlings
    d) Oil

    Mar 30, 2009 | 12:17 am

  35. Troppo says:

    I read recently of a Frenchman who has planted 60 hectares of Cananga oderata in Cambodia, I’ll bet his patch smells nice for those folk living downwind. :)

    Bought 4 x 5ft specimens myself on Sunday, total cost, delivered. 500 THB :)

    May 26, 2009 | 7:35 pm

  36. geno says:

    I’m looking for Cananga Odorata know as Ylang Ylang Tree. Was wondering if you hand some. If so, please let me know.
    V/R G. Rivera

    Jul 2, 2009 | 1:32 am

  37. stiftmeister says:

    can you pls help me for my investigatory project…i am wondering if are MORE ilang-ilang perfume ingredients???can you pls tell me about it???ASAP

    Aug 13, 2009 | 7:41 pm

  38. jordan reyes says:

    hi to all
    I was able to buy 2 small plant around 2 feet tall Ylang Ylang plant from Manila Seedling in Agham Quezon city it cost 30 pesos only so I brought 2
    its nice that we are all interested to plant trees to save our environment from pollution and global warming

    to all plant and tree lovers
    I give you my warmest salute

    Sep 24, 2009 | 9:09 pm


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