Cananga odorata Lamk Hook f Thoms

[From Malay, kananga = Canangaodorata (Lamk.) Hook. f. & Thoms. and from Latin, odorem = odour]

Physical description: It is a shrub which grows to a height of 4 m. The plant grows wild in a geographical zone spanning from India to Polynesia. The bark is blackish to grey, smooth and the young stems are pubescent. Leaves: simple, alternate and exstipulate. The blade is light green, soft, dull, oblong to broadly elliptic, and 6.5 cm x 20 cm-3 cm x 8.5 cm. The apex of the blade is acuminate and the base is round. The blade shows 6-10 pairs of secondary nerves. The flowers are strongly fragrant. The calyx consists of 3 sepals and the corolla consists of 6 linear valvate petals, yellow at first then turning golden yellow. The fruits consist of 2 to 12 ripe carpels arranged in 2 whorls, ripening to black, and 1.75 cm x 2.5 cm. Each carpel contains 6 to 12 seeds (Fig. 7).

History: The oil obtained by distillation of the flowers is the Cananga oil or ylang-ylang oil, which is used to make perfumes. Cananga oil added to coconut oil and other ingredients makes the Macassar oil which was so familiar to the well-groomed Victorian and Edwardian males. The British Standards Institution has published standard specifications for Cananga oil (BS 2991/ 1:1965). Cananga oil contains geraniol, linalool esters of acetic and benzoic acids, p-cresol methyl ester, cadidene, some sesquiterpenes and phenols (Greenberg LA etal., 1954).

Synonymy: Canangium odoratum Baill.

Common names: Ylang-ylang tree; bois de lance batard (French); maladi (Tamil); kenanga (Malay); kadapnyan (Burmese).

Fig. 7. Cananga odorata (Lamk.) Hook. f. & Thoms.

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