Friday, November 04, 2011

My Ylang Ylang Perfume Tree is Blooming

My first photo of my first ylang flower in the hot, bright Miami sun.

Ylang ylang trees can quickly and easily grow to 40' in Miami.  That is the major reason I put off growing one for so many years.   Then I read that in Madagascar, where the trees are grown for their fragrant flowers, which are a major economic resource for the perfume industry, are kept pruned to six to 10 feet so the flowers are easy to harvest.  So, about a year and a half ago I planted a tiny four foot tree and have had to prune it so it's now about 7' tall.

The young green blooms are cute!  However, their scent is very weak, so they can't be harvested yet.

Ylang ylang trees bloom in the Autumn, I read, but friends who have visited Fairchild gardens report they can bloom year round.  Friends who have them growing in their neighborhoods, not their own lots (since they're so big and can overwhelm a city lot) couldn't recall what time of year they bloomed.  I further researched and found that in Madagascar, which may be very similar to Miami's climate, they bloom from Nov. to March, their rainy season.  Perhaps if irrigated here during that time, since that is our dry season, they will continue to bloom.

Well, my tree started right on schedule, on October 18.  They're very green when they open, and over the next 20 or so days, they'll slowly turn yellow, and when the yellow flower shows a blush of red in the throat, they're fully mature.

I'm conflicted about tincturing or distilling them.  My distillation unit only holds two liters, and with the size of the flowers, and the desire to mainly capture the 'ylang extra' oil that comes over in the first hour and a half of distillation, the yield would be miniscule, since the essential oil yield is only 1 - 2 %, and the extra grade maybe one-fifth of that. However, that's not to say I wouldn't love and use the ylang hydrosol!

Ylang is an indispensable oil for fine perfumery.  This narcotic, tropical floral heart note blends well with other florals, and even in tiny amounts, can elevate the other florals.

Nov 3, 2011 - the ylang flowers lose their curliness and begin to droop as they mature.  I'm detecting a hint of red at the throat, and may harvest this in a day or two.
If you live in the tropics, I urge you to grow it.   The flowers have a delicate sweetness that is not present in even the best distillation, the extra grade, nor is it in ylang concrete or absolute, created with solvents.  My garden is perfume heaven right now, and if you can grow this, and keep it pruned to a reasonable size, you will have a perfume heaven in your garden, also.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I love this! Ylang-ylang has a special place in my world; I've even written a poem about it. Would you like to read it? Thank you for sharing these pics. How do you get hold of seedlings? I wonder if I could grow it here in Cape Town, being more mediterranean than tropical?


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