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Family Anonaceae
Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook f. & Thomson

Yi lan

Scientific names  Common names 
Cananga mitrastigma (F. Muell.) Domin Ilang-ilang (Tag.) 
Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook f. & Thomson Ylang-ylang (Tag.)
Cananga odoratum (Lam.) Baill. ex King Perfume tree (Engl.)
Cananga scortechinii King Fragrant cananga (Engl.)
Cangangium mitrastigma (F. Muell.) Domin Macassar oil plant (Engl.)
Fitzgeraldia mitrastigma F.Muell.  
Unona cananga  Spreng.  
Unona leptopetala  DC.  
Unona odorata  (Lam.) Baill.  
Unona odorata  (Lam.) Dunal  
Uvaria axillaris  Roxb.  
Uvaria cananga  Banks  
Uvaria odorata  Lam.  
Uvaria ossea  (Blanco) Blanco  
Uvaria trifoliata  Gaertn.  
Ilang-ilang is a common name shared by (1) Ilang-ilang gubat, Desmos cochinchinensis (2) Ilang-ilang, Cangana odorata.
Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. & Thomson is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BURMESE: Sagasein, Kadatngan, Kadatnyan.
CHINESE: Guo luo shi, Xiang shui shi, Jia na kai, Yi lan xiang.
FRENCH: Canang odorant, Ilang-ilang en arbre.
GERMAN: Ilang-Ilang, Ilang-Ilangbaum.
GUAM: Alang-ilang.
HAWAIIAN: Lanalana.
HINDI: Ban champak, Chettu sampangi, Karumugai.
INDIA: Apurvachampaka, Chettu sampangi, Karumugai.
INDONESIA: Kernanga.
JAPANESE: Iraniran noki, Ban reishi.
KHMER: Sreng chhke.
LAOTIAN: Ka dan nga thay.
MALAY: Kananga, Kenanga utan, Bungan sandat.
PORTUGUESE: Cananga, Ilanga.
RUSSIAN: Ilang-ilang, Zheltyi ilang-lang, Kananga duchistaia.
SANSKRIT: Vanachampaka, Lanji.
SPANISH: Alangilán, Cadmia, Cananga, Ilang-ilang.
THAI: Fereng, Kradang nga thai.
VIETNAMESE: Ng[oj]c t[aa]y, Ho[af]ng lan.

General info
Ylang ylang means "flowers of flowers."
A variety, Cananga odorata macrophylla (Cannagium odoratum macrophylla) yields Cananga oil, also used in the manufacture of cosmetics and soap, flavoring of foods as gelatins and puddings.

Ilang-ilang is a medium-sized tree growing 10 to 30 meters in height, with pendulous branches, with drooping, leafy twigs. Flowers are fragrant, axillary, in umbellate hanging clusters, with three sepals and six petals, twisted when young and drooping when mature. Leaves are dark green, up to 20 centimeters in length, alternate, simple, entire. Fruit is black in color, 1.5 to 2 centimeters in length, in axillary clusters, fleshy and olive-like, with six to 12 seeds in each fruit.

- Cultivated for ornamental purposes.
- Native to Cambodia, China, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, India, Jamaica, Madagascar, Reunion, Seychelles, Sri Lanka. (20)

• The oil extracted from fresh flowers has a floral fragrance.
• The oil is distilled from freshly harvested flowers.
• Fractionation of essential oil isolated 17 compounds. From the volatile, oxygenated and hydrocarbon fractions, 52 compounds were identified, among them: (alpha)-cedrene, (alpha)-amorphene, (gamma)-gisabolene and cadinols. (5)
• From the leaves and branches, two unusual lactones were isolated: one already known, isosiphonodin; and the other, canangone, a new terpenoid spirolactone. (6)
• Study of stem bark extract reported liriodenine, anonaine, roemerine, ushinine, and canangine, which was later reported as eupolauridine. (see study below) (14)
• Phytochemical study of leaves yielded four compounds, viz., two steroids: ß-sitosterol and stigmasterol, and two oxoaporphine alkaloids:
liriodenine and lysicamine. (15)
• Study of essential oil of leaves yielded a total of 23 components. The principal compounds were linalool (21.08%), linalool acetate (16.14%) α-pinene (12.73%), eugenol (8.86%), and α-terpineol acetate (7.71%), with isobornyl acetate (3.56%), α-terpineol (3.46%) and camphor (3.23%). (see study below) (16)
• Phytochemical analysis of various leaf extracts yielded alkaloids, carbohydrates, glycosides, saponins, phenols, tannins, flavonoids, proteins and amino acids, steroid, and coumarin. (23)
• Study for volatile compounds from flower essential oil yielded limonene, linalool, benzyl acetate and ß-caryophyllene, while leaf essential oils yielded α-pinene and ß-caryophyllene. (25)

• Essential oil considered antidepressant, antiseborrheic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, nervine and sedative.
• Studies have suggested antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibiofilm, anti-inflammatory, antivector, antidiabetic, antimelanogenesis, cytotoxic, antifertility, insecticidal properties.

Parts used
Flowers, bark, oil.

- Oil Used for a variety of infectious and skin diseases, acne and scalp conditions.
- Sedative and antidepressant.
- Reduces sebum in oily skin.
- Use for insect bite.
- Bark decoction used for rheumatism, ophthalmia, ulcers and fevers.
- In Java and Vietnam, dried flowers used to treat malaria.
- In Indonesia, oil used to enhance euphoria during sex and to reduce sexual anxiety.
- Reportedly used to decrease blood pressure.
- In India, used topically to relieve itching and also to treat dandruff.
- In Tonga and Samoa, bark used to treat stomach ailments and as a laxative.
- In Papua New Guinea, bark decoction used to treat gout.
- In Tonga and Samoa, bark decoction used as laxative.
- In Java, flowers used for malaria, and fresh flowers, pounded into a paste, used for asthma.
Oil / Fragrance: (1) Primary commercial product is the oil distilled for the perfume industry. Oil is used as a fragrance for cosmetics (1% in perfumes), soaps, shampoos, creams and lotions. (2) Oil also used as flavoring agent for beverages, ice cream, candies and baked goods.
Aromatherapy: Essential oil used in aromatherapy, with claims of usefulness for depression, breathing problems, hypertension, and anxiety..
Also regarded as an aphrodisiac. In some Asian countries, the flowers are laid out in matrimonial beds.
• An ingredient in motion sickness medicine, MotionEaze.
Ornamental: Fragrant flowers used in making lei and headdresses.
Wood: Wood is used in making small canoe parts, furniture, fuel wood and cordage. (11)

Cytotoxic / Anticancer / Fruits: Cytotoxic constituents of the Fruits of Cananga odorata: A new guaipyridine sesquiterpene alkaloid, cananodine, and two new eudesmane sesqiuiterpenes were isolated from the fruits of CO and were evaluated for cytotoxicity against two human hepatocarcinoma cell lines. (1)
Antibacterial and cytotoxic / Bark: Isolated compounds from the bark showed antibacterial activities, as well as antifungal and cytotoxic activities. (2)
Relaxing Effect / Aromatherapy: Using human physiological parameters and self-evaluation after transdermal absorption In a study of 40 healthy volunteers, ylang ylang oil caused a significant decrease of blood pressure and increase of skin temperature with subjective ratings of being calmer and more relax than in the control group. Study suggests some evidence of usage of the ylang ylang oil in aromatherapy for relief of depression and stress in humans. (4)
Antifertility: The study of ethanol extract of Cananga odorata possesses antifertility effects with statistically significant alterations in sperm morphology as well as activity of HMG CoA reductase and G6PD activities and serum testosterone.
Spermatotoxic / Root Bark:
Study of 50% ethanolic extract of root bark of C odorata resulted in spermatotoxic effects, ie, decreased epididymal sperm motility and sperm count in male albino rats. (8)
Antimicrobial / Leaves:
Study evaluated the antimicrobial effect of various leaf extracts of Cananga odorata on bacterial cultures including Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, E coli, Vibrio cholerae and fungus Epidermophyton floccosum., M. gypseum, and T. mentagrophytes. Among extracts tested, methanol was more effective than chloroform and petroleum ether. (12)
Effects of Aroma on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in Healthy Men: Study showed YYA (ylang-ylang aroma) caused a reduction of HR and BP, and a relief of the arousal level in healthy men. Results suggest a sedative effect of YYA, and provides evidence of usage as a medicinal agent. (13)
Sampangine / Alkaloid / Leaves:
Study of stem bark extract by Cave and co-workers reported liriodenine, anonaine, roemerine, ushinine, and canangine, which was later reported as eupolauridine. This study of a chloroform extract reports the isolation of two alkaloids, A (new and named sampangine) and B. (14)
Insecticidal / Essential Oil: Study evaluated the chemical composition and insecticidal activity of the essential oil of C. odorata leaves against maize weevils (Sitophilus zeamais). The essential oil showed strong contact toxicity against S. zeamais. The essential oil also showed fumigant toxicity against the grain storage insect. (see constituents above) (16)
Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Stages of Flower Development: Study evaluated the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of the different flower development stages of Cananga odorata for the evaluation of floral volatile polymorphism as a basis to determine the best time of harvest. Ninety-two compounds were identified over the flower life. The VOCs were largely hydrocarbons, esters, alcohols, aldehydes, phenols, acids, ketones and ethers. The main compound was ß-caryophyllene; others were β-cubebene, D-germacrene, benzyl benzoate, and α-cubebene. (17) The chemical composition of oils extracted from flowers at different stages of development differed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Generation of total volatile metabolites increased markedly during flower maturation. (21)
Essential Oil Constituents of Varieties at Different Flowering Stages: Study of three varieties of essential oils showed the odor quality was related to the variety, contents of esters, alcohols and phenolic ethers; and the greater the sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols, the worse the odor quality. The quality of the oil was also better when obtained from the flowers when the flower color changed from green to yellow than oil obtained from green flowers or flower buds. (22)
Spermatotoxic Effects: Study of 50% ethanolic extract of root bark showed spermatotoxic effects in male albino rats. Results showed decreased epididymal sperm motility and sperm count, suppression of testosterone production and increase in its catabolism, with alteration in micronutrients of the testis causing deficiency in nutrients for the proper maturation and function of sperms. (24)
Antioxidant / Antibacterial / Flower Essential Oil: Essential oil from C. odorata flower and leaf showed antioxidant activity, especially in inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Flower EO inhibited growth of bacterial strains tested, and flower and leaf EO showed antifungal activity against fungal strains tested. (25)
Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of ethanolic extract of C. odorata using carrageenan-induced paw edema in Wistar albino rats. Results showed highly significant anti-inflammatory activity, higher than standard drug aspirin in the studied doses. (26)
Aromatherapy / Pilot Study for Anxiety and Self-Esteem: Pilot study on 34 professionals from a nursing group evaluated the of ylang ylang essential oil by cutaneous application or inhalation for effects on anxiety and self-esteem perception and physiological parameters such as blood pressure and temperature. Results showed a significant difference in self-esteem; however, there were no differences in analysis for anxiety and physiological parameters. (27)
Mosquito Insecticidal Potential / Essential Oil: Study of the essential oil of C. odorata flowers for oviposition-deterrent, ovicidal, insecticidal, and repellent activities against three mosquito species: Aedes aegypti, Anopheles dirus, and Culex quinquefasciatus showed potential for use as a botanical insecticide.    (28)
Analgesic: Insecticidal Potential / Essential Oil: Study of ethanolic extract of CO showed central and peripheral analgesic activity by Tail Flick method and Acetic Acid Induced Writhing tests in Swiss albino mice. (29)

Safety / Allergy concerns
- Probably safe in the amount found in foods.
- No known interactions with herbs and other dietary supplements.
- In cosmetics, used in moderation, the oil is non-toxic and a non-irritant. However, the oil is considered as an allergen, and has been removed from some cosmetics. (1

- Wild-crafted.
- Cultivated for ornamental use.
- Extracts and essentials oils in the cybermarket.

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update November 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Cytotoxic Constituents of the Fruits of Cananga odorata / J. Nat. Prod., 2001, 64 (5), pp 616–619 / DOI: 10.1021/np0005208
Antibacterial and cytotoxic compounds from the bark of Cananga odorata / Fitoterapia, Volume 76, Issues 7-8, December 2005, Pages 758-761 / doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2005.08.011
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies - C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD., Element Books Limited, 1998
Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption / Tapanee Hongratanaworakit and Gerhard Buchbauer / Phytotherapy Research, Vol 20 Issue 9, Pages 758 - 763 / DOI 10.1002/ptr.1950
Composition of the essential oil of Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata Hook Fil. et Thomson forma genuina) from Madagascar / Emile M. Gaydou et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 1986, 34 (3), pp 481–487 / DOI: 10.1021/jf00069a028
Unusual Lactones from Cananga odorata (Annonaceae) / Eric Caloprisco et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (1), pp 78–80 / DOI: 10.1021/jf0105079
Spermatotoxic effects of Cananga odorata (Lam): a comparison with gossypol / Pankajakshy A and Madambath I / Fertil Steril. 2009 May;91(5 Suppl):2243-6. Epub 2008 Aug 9.

Impact of feeding ethanolic extract of root bark of Cananga odorata on reproductive functions of male rats / P Anitha & M Indira / Indian Journ Exp Biol, Dec 2006
Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook. f. et Thomson (accepted name) / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Cananga odorata (ylang-ylang) / Harley I. Manner and Craig R. Elevitch / Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry
Sorting Cananga names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.

EVALUATION OF ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF CANANGA ODORATA (LAM.)HOOK.F. & THOMSON LEAF EXTRACT: AN IN VITRO STUDY / Isaivani Indrakumar*, V.Selvi, R.Gomathi and S.Karpagam / Mintage journal of Pharmaceutical & Medical Sciences, 21-22
Effects of Ylang-Ylang aroma on blood pressure and heart rate in healthy men / Da-Jung Jung, Jun-Youl Cha, [...], and Yong-Seok Jee / JER: Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, Apr 2013; 9(2): 250-255
Sampangine, A New Alkaloid from Cananga odorata / J U M Rao, G S Giri, T Hanumiah, and K V J Rao / Journal of Natural Products, Vol 49 No 2, Pp 346-347, Mar-Apr 1986
Composition and insecticidal activity of the essential oil of Cananga odorata leaves against Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) / Jun Cheng, Kai Yang, Na Na Zhao, Xuan Gao Wang, Shu Ying Wang and Zhi Long Liu* / Journal of Medicina Plants Research, Vol.6(18), pp. 3482-3486 , May 2012
DOI: 10.5897/JMPR12.136
Volatile organic compound emissions from different stages of Cananga odorata flower development. / Qin XW, Hao CY, He SZ, Wu G, Tan LH, Xu F, Hu R / Molecules. 2014 Jun 27;19(7):8965-80. doi: 10.3390/molecules19078965.
Canango odorata / Synonyms / The Plant List
Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang) / Loh Teng Hern Tan, Learn Han Lee, Wai Fong Yin, Chim Kei Chan, Habsah Abdul Kadir, Kok Gan Chan, and Bey Hing Goh / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2015 (2015) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/896314
Cananga odorata / World Agroforestry
A study of the compositional variation of the essential oil of ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata Hook Fil. et Thomson, formagenuina) during flower development / Elena E. Stashenko*, William Torres andJairo René Martinez Morales / Journal of High Resolution Chromatography, Volume 18, Issue 2, pages 101–104, February 1995 / DOI: 10.1002/jhrc.1240180206
Study on constituents of essential oils from Cananga odorata in different varieties at different flowering stages. [1988] / Ding Jingkai, Yi Yuanfen, Wu Yi, Liu Zeguang, Dao Sihua / Acta Botanica Yunnanica
Phytochemical Analysis of Leaf Extracts of Calophyllum inophyllum L. And Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.F. & Thomson / Isaivani Indrakumar, V Selvi, R Gomathi, S Karpagam / IOSR Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 2 (Sep-Oct. 2012), PP 35-37
Impact of feeding ethanolic extract of root bark of Cananga odorata (Lam) on reproductive functions of male rats / P Anitha & M Indira / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 44, Dec 2006, pp 976-980
Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of ethanolic extract of Cananga odorata Lam in experimental animals / Yasmeen A. Maniyar, C. H. Janaki Devi. / Int J Basic Clin Pharmacol. 2015; 4(2): 354-357 / doi: 10.5455/2319-2003.ijbcp20150439
Aromatherapy with ylang ylang for anxiety and self-esteem: a pilot study / Juliana Rizzo Gnatta, Patricia Petrone Piason, Cristiane de Lion Botero Couto Lopes, Noemi Marisa Brunet Rogenski, Maria Júlia Paes da Silva / Rev. esc. enferm. USP vol.48 no.3 São Paulo June 2014 / http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0080-623420140000300015
Efficacy of essential oil from Cananga odorata (Lamk.) Hook.f.&Thomson (Annonaceae) against three mosquito species Aedes aegypti (L.), Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison), and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say). / Mayura Soonwera / Parasitol Res. 2015 Sep 4. Epub 2015 Sep 4. PMID: 26337270

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