The Q&A Archives: Ylang-ylang Plant?

Question: We have been told that on our property there was a plant called (sounds like) Ling-Ling or linga-linga. We were told it was the plant the Chanel #5 is made from. I have not been able to find any info on this plant in any books I have looked in; any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: I can think of two possibilities. Ylang-ylang is the common name of the tropical plant Cananga odorata. Its oil is an important ingredient in many, if not most, perfumes. Native to Indai, Java, and the Philippines, ylang-ylang is a tree that grows up to 80' tall with pointed, glossy, oval leaves. The fragrant flowers mature to ivory white, with pendulous petals up to two inches long.

There is another plant called Michelia champaca, native to the Himalayas, commonly called banana-shrub. This is a tall evergreen tree, closely related to the magnolia, with a smooth, gray trunk and oval, glossy leaves. The flowers are yellow to orange; they are most fragrant at night, and are also used in perfumes.

Hope this helps!

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