Characteristics of Cananga Trees (Cananga odorata) in the Wild

Cananga odorata
Cananga tree is a tropical tree originating from India, then spread across the regions of Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, to Queensland, Australia. The tree is valued because it can be used to make a perfume called Ylang-ylang, which is produced from the extraction of its flowers.

Cananga trees are called by the names Kenanga (Indonesia), Kradangnga (Thailand), Ilang-ilang (Philippines), Mata’oi (Cook Islands), Mohokoi (Tonga), Moso’oi (Samoa), Moto’oi (Hawaii), and Mokosoi, Mokasoiatau, Mokohoi (Fiji).

The Cananga tree grows well in full sun, and it prefers acidic soils as in its natural habitat, its rainforest. Currently, the Cananga tree has been cultivated as an ornamental tree, a flower-producing cultivated tree, and a tree in conservation.


Characteristics of Cananga Leaf

Cananga odorata Leaf
Source : and Kim Starr

The leaves are oval, smooth, shiny green, pointed, wavy at the edges, and between 15-20 cm long.


Characteristics of Cananga Flower

Cananga odorata Flower
Source : Ng

Ylang flower drooping, long stalk, has 6 petals, greenish-yellow color, very fragrant, and produces essential oil when extracted.

Cananga odorata Fruit
Source : Ng


Characteristics of the Cananga Tree

Cananga odorata Tree
Source : Garin

Cananga is a fast-growing Annonaceae custard tree. It can exceed 5 meters annually and reach a maximum height of 10 meters in a place with suitable soil and climatic conditions.


The essential oil of the Cananga flower is used in aromatherapy.

It is believed that Cananga oil can relieve high blood pressure is considered an aphrodisiac.

Cananga oil is widely used in fragrances for oriental or floral themed perfumes such as Chanel No. 5.

In Indonesia, Cananga flowers are often used by spreading them on the bed of newly married couples.

In the Philippines, the flowers are strung into necklaces (Lei) and worn by women to decorate religious images.


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