[Footnote: From the Archiv der Pharmacie.]


This oil, on account of its fragrance, which is described by most observers as extremely pleasant, has attained to some importance, so that it appears to me not superfluous to submit the following remarks upon it and the plant from which it is derived.

The tree, of which the flowers yield the oil known under the name "Ilang-ilang" or "Alanguilan," is the Cananga odorata, Hook. fil. et Thomp.,[1] of the order Unonaceæ, for which reason it is called also in many price lists "Oleum Anonæ," or "Oleum Unonæ" It is not known to me whether the tree can be identified in the old Indian and Chinese literature.[2] In the west it was first named by Ray as "Arbor Saguisan," the name by which it was called at that time at Luçon[3] Rump[4] gave a detailed description of the "Bonga Cananga," as the Malays designate the tree ("Tsjampa" among the Javanese); Rumph's figure, however is defective. Further, Lamarck[5] has short notices of it under "Canang odorant, Uvaria odorata." According to Roxburgh,[6] the plant was in 1797 brought from Sumatra to the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta. Dunal devoted to the Ucaria odorata, or, properly, Unona odorata, as he himself corrected it, a somewhat more thorough description in his "Monographic de la Famille des Anonacees,"[7] which principally repeats Rumph's statements.

[Footnote 1: "Flora Indica," i (1855), 130.]

[Footnote 2: "No mention of any plant or flowers, which might be identified with Cananga, can be traced in any Sanskrit works."--Dr. Charles Rice, New Remedies, April, 1881, page 98.]

[Footnote 3: Ray. "Historia Plantarum, Supplementum," tomi i et ii "Hist. Stirpium Insulæ Luzonensis et Philippinarum" a Georgio Josepho Canello; London, 1704, 83]

[Footnote 4: "Herbarium Amboinense, Amboinsch Kruidboek," ii. (Amsterdam, 1750), cap. xix, fol. 195 and tab. 65.]

[Footnote 5: "Encyclopédie méthodique. Botanique," i (1783), 595.]

[Footnote 6: "Flora Indica," ii. (Serampore, 1832), 661.]

[Footnote 7: Paris, 1817, p. 108, 105.]

Lastly, we owe a very handsome figure of the Cananga odorata to the magnificent "Flora Javæ," of Blume;[1] a copy of this, which in the original is beautifully colored, is appended to the present notice. That this figure is correct I venture to assume after having seen numerous specimens in Geneva, with De Candolle, as well as in the Delessert herbarium. The unjustifiable name Unona odoratissima, which incorrectly enough has passed into many writings, originated with Blanco,[2] who in his description of the powerful fragrance of the flowers, which in a closed sleeping room produces headache, was induced to use the superlative "odoratissima." Baillon[3] designated as Canangium the section of the genus Uvaria, from which he would not separate the Ilang-ilang tree.

[Footnote 1: Vol. i. (Brussels, 1829), fol. 29, tab ix et xiv. B.]

[Footnote 2: "Flora de Filipinas," Manila, 1845, 325. Unona odoratissima, Alang-ilan. The latter name, according to Sonnerat, is stated by the Lamarck to be of Chinese origin; Herr Reymann derives it from the Tagal language.]

[Footnote 3: "Dictionnaire de Botanique."]



The notice of Maximowicz,[1] "Ueber den Ursprung des Parfums Ylang-Ylang," contains only a confirmation of the derivation of the perfume from Cananga.

[Footnote 1: Just's "Botanischer Jahresbericht," 1875, 973.]

Cananga odorata is a tree attaining to a height of 60 feet, with few but abundantly ramified branches. The shortly petioled long acuminate leaves, arranged in two rows, attain a length of 18 centimeters and a breadth of 7 centimeters; the leaf is rather coriaceous, and slightly downy only along the nerves on the under side. The handsome and imposing looking flowers of the Cananga odorata occur to the number of four on short peduncles. The lobes of the tripartite leathery calyx are finally bent back. The six lanceolate petals spread out very nearly flat, and grow to a length of 7 centimeters and a breadth of about 12 millimeters; they are longitudinally veined, of a greenish color, and dark brown when dried. The somewhat bell-shaped elegantly drooping flowers impart quite a handsome appearance, although the floral beauty of other closely allied plants is far more striking. The filaments of the Cananga are very numerous; the somewhat elevated receptacle has a shallow depression at the summit. The green berry-like fruit is formed of from fifteen to twenty tolerably long stalked separate carpels which inclose three to eight seeds arranged in two rows. The umbel-like peduncles are situated in the axils of the leaves or spring from the nodes of leafless branches. The flesh of the fruit is sweetish and aromatic. The flowers possess a most exquisite perfume, frequently compared with hyacinth, narcissus, and cloves.

Cananga odorata, according to Hooker and Thomson or Bentham and Hooker,[1] is the only species of this genus; the plants formerly classed together with it under the names Unona or Uvaria, among which some equally possess odorous flowers, are now distributed between those two genera, which are tolerably rich in species. From Uvaria the Cananga differs in its valvate petals, and from Unona in the arrangement of the seeds in two rows.

[Footnote 1: "Genera Plantarum," i, (1864), 24.]

Cananga odorata is distributed throughout all Southern Asia, mostly, however, as a cultivated plant. In the primitive forest the tree is much higher, but the flowers are, according to Blume, almost odorless. In habit the Cananga resembles the Michelia champaca, L.,[1] of the family Magnoliaceæ, an Indian tree extraordinarily prized on account of the very pleasant perfume of its yellow flowers, and which was already highly celebrated in ancient times in India. Among the admired fragrant flowers which are the most prized by the in this respect pampered Javanese, the "Tjempaka" (Michelia champaca) and the "Kenangga wangi" (Cananga odorata)[2] stand in the first rank.