Rich and buttery like custard, the tropical ylang ylang tree originated in the Philippines, where it was crowned the ‘flower of flowers’. The blooms of this flower are so delicate that they must be picked by hand at dawn, and distilled within two hours. Sadly, as a result of bad harvest and distillation practices, the quality of ylang ylang has decreased over the years: a trend that is now reversing.
Taking centre stage in some of the world’s most iconic floral perfumes, ylang ylang is a heady, slightly spicy scent that evokes the vibrant colours of summer. Grown on an archipelago of volcanic islands called the Comoros, situated off the southeast coast of Africa, this capricious bright yellow bloom emits a strong sweet fragrance even before distillation.
The Comoros islands produce more than 80% of the world’s supply of ylang ylang, so caring for this precious flower is vital not only for perfume innovation, but also for the people whose livelihoods depend on it.
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The smallest of these islands, Mohéli, is one such example where, due to lack of awareness and poor distillation equipment, the quality of the ylang ylang essential oil has fallen dramatically. Givaudan is partnering with AGK, a producer and exporter of aromatic plants, which has been operating in the Comoros for several generations, to improve the ylang ylang oil quality.
New efforts lead to new inspirations for Diptyque
By financing and installing new copper stills, improving harvesting and distillation techniques, and supporting the education of local villages with a commitment to purchasing school supplies, Givaudan hopes to enrich the entire community while ensuring Givaudan perfumers obtain the highest grades of this precious oil. The quality of ylang ylang produced by Givaudan was so vastly improved that our customer, French perfume house, Diptyque chose to showcase the flower in a new fragrance, Eau de Mohéli.
Even petals have a carbon footprint
As well as improving farming methods, the surrounding environment of lush forest also has to be protected. By planting fast-growing trees, Givaudan prevents deforestation caused by a long-term usage of wood-burning fires to heat the stills. Our initiatives to safeguard traditional production techniques, and balance carbon emissions, means we have ensured the production of this sunny scent for generations to come.
Facts about ylang ylang
|Ylang ylang flowers must be distilled within two hours of picking|
|The petals take 14 hours to distill|
|Fifty kilos of flowers are required for just 1 kg of ylang ylang essence|
|The various grades of ylang oil depend on the length of the distillation|
Sourcing for Shared Value programme
Sustainable actions such as these are a result of our Sourcing for Shared Value programme, whereby we protect and nurture special ingredients over the long-term. This programme recognises the importance of maintaining the world’s supplies of unique raw materials. By operating sustainable business models involving people, products, the environment and society, the future of these resources can blossom.