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

Last updated: 24 Nov 2016

Scientific Name

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


Cananga mitrastigma (F.Muell.) Domin, Cananga odorata var. odorata, Cananga odoratum (Lam.) Baill. ex King, Cananga scortechinii King, Canangium mitrastigma (F.Muell.) Domin, Canangium odoratum (Lam.) Baill. ex King, Canangium odoratum var. velutinum Koord. & Valeton, Canangium scortechinii King, Fitzgeraldia mitrastigma F.Muell., Unona cananga Spreng., Unona fitzgeraldii F.Muell. [Invalid], Unona leptopetala DC., Unona odorata (Lam.) Dunal, Unona odorata (Lam.) Baill., Unona odoratissima Blanco, Unona ossea Blanco, Uvaria axillaris Roxb., Uvaria cananga Banks, Uvaria farcta Wall. [Invalid], Uvaria gaertneri Dunal [Illegitimate], Uvaria hortensis Noronha [Unresolved], Uvaria javanica Thunb. [Illegitimate], Uvaria odorata Lam., Uvaria ossea (Blanco) Blanco, Uvaria trifoliata Gaertn. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Chenanga, hutan, kananga, kenanga, kenanga utan, neriah, nérian, nyai [2]
English Cananga, fragrant cananga, ilang-ilang, macassar oil plant, perfume tree, ylang-ylang tree [2]
China Yi lan [2]
India Apoorva champaka, apoorvachampakamu, apurbachampa, canpakam, cuvetika, irattimanikkakkoti, irunti, kamalada mara, kananga hoo, katthe sampige, malani, malati, malatimaram, marammanorancitam, nettiramali, pamini, pavalaruti, picci, piriyavata, pitti [2]
Indonesia Bunga sandat [2]; kananga, kenanga, sepalen [3]
Thailand Feeng, kradang-nga-thai, kradang-ngaa-thai, kradangnga-songkhla, kradangnga-thai, sabannga-ton [2]
Laos Ka dan nga thay [2]
Myanmar Kadapgnam, kadatngan, sagasein [2]
Philippines Alangilang, ilang-ilang, ylang-ylang [2]
Cambodia Chhkè srèng [2]
Vietnam Ho[af]ng lan, ng[oj]c lan t[aa]y, ylang-ylang [2].

Geographical Distributions

Cananga odorata is thought to originate from South-East Asia and occurs naturally throughout South-East Asia, Australia and several Pacific islands. It has been introduced into China, India, Africa and the Americas. [3]

Botanical Description

C. odorata falls under the family of Annonaceae. This is an evergreen tree between 10-40 m tall. In cultivation it is often pruned to 3 m. [3]

The trunk is up to 75 cm in diameter, without buttresses. The bark is pale grey or silvery and smooth. The branches are drooping, or slightly erect with dangling leafy twigs. The young twigs are minutely hairy and becoming hairless. [3]

The leaves are alternate and regularly arranged in two opposite rows on either side of an axis, simple and without stipule. The stalk is slender, 1-2 cm long, narrowly grooved and hairy. The blade is 13-29 cm x 4-10 cm, elliptical to ovate-oblong. The base is often oblique and rounded heart-shaped. The margin is more or less undulating; apex is acutely acuminate, thin and semi-transparent. The midrib and lateral veins are mostly covered with whitish-hairs on both sides. The 8-9 pairs of secondary veins in are clearly visible on both sides. It is often with small, hairy and pitted glands in vein axils. [3]

The inflorescence is raceme, 1-4 cm long, with 2-6 flowers on short, leafless, arising from axils shoots, dangling in clusters of 1-3 from the older branches behind the leaves. The flowers are 5-7.5 cm long, bisexual, green turning light dull yellow and overpoweringly fragrant when mature. The stalk of individual flower is 2-5 cm long with 3 5-7 mm x 5 mm egg-shaped and abruptly bent sepals. There are 6 petals in 2 whorls of 3, linear-lance-shaped size 3-9 cm x 5-16 mm. It is often curled or wavy, with purple brown spot on the base’s interior. The stamens are numerous, closely arranged, linear, 2-3 mm long, with a broad, cone-shaped connective appendix. There is no abortive stamen. [3]

The fruits are numerous, with slender style and discoid stigma. Fruit is pendulous, consisting of many (7-16) separate, spherical-reverse egg-shaped monocarps, on 2.5 cm x 1.5 cm on 1-2 cm long stalk. The monocarp is dark green, blackish when it is ripe, 2-12-seeded and embedded in yellow oily pulp arranged in 2 rows. [3]

The seed is flattened, ellipsoid size 9 mm x 6 mm x 2.5 mm, pale brown, surface pitted, hard and with a rudimentary aril. [3]


C. odorata thrives in the more humid lowland tropics with an annual rainfall of (650-)1500-2000(-4000) mm and an average annual temperature of 21-27°C. In Java it grows gregariously in moist evergreen forest and in teak forest. In New Guinea it grows up to 850 m altitude. When planted it is found up to 1200 m. It grows well on light, well-drained soils with pH 4.5-8, preferring rich volcanic or fertile sandy soils. Because of the long taproot, deep soils are required. Waterlogging for prolonged periods, but not permanent marshy conditions is tolerated; saline and alkaline soils should be avoided. [3]

Chemical Constituent

Methanol extract of C. odorata flowers has been reported to contain volatile compounds (p-cresyl methyl ether, methyl benzoate, linalool, benzyl acetate and geranyl acetate, β-caryophyllene, (+)-germacrene, and (E,E)-α-farnesene. [4]

Chloroform and diethyl ether extract of C. odorata flowers has been reported to contain volatile compounds (anisole, linalool, geraniol, α-copaene, trans-caryophyllene, α-humulene, α-bergamotene, α-cadinol and benzyl benzoate).[5]

Ethyl acetate extract of C. odorata flowers has been reported to contain phenolics (caffeic acid) and volatile compounds (β-thujene, α-pinene, camphene, β-pinene, α-terpinene, p-cresol methyl ether, trans-β-ocimene, β-ocimene, γ-terpinene, terpinolene). [6]

Plant Part Used

Flower. [3]

Traditional Use

Traditionally, a paste of the fresh flowers of C. odorata was used to treat asthma while its dried flowers were used to treat malaria [7]. Flowers were also used as remedy for headaches, high blood pressure, coughs, dizziness, skin irritations, to treat gonorrhoea and back pain [8]. Meanwhile, C. odorata leaves were used in a treatment for diarrhoea in infants [9].

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

Flower oil (0.01–0.75 mg/mL) of C. odorata inhibited the growth of Candida albicans with minimum inhibition concentration (MIC) of 0.17mg/mL, Rhodotorula glutinis (MIC = 0.23 mg/mL), Schizosaccharomyces pombe (MIC = 0.54 mg/mL), Saccharomyces cerevisiae (MIC = 0.27 mg/mL) and Yarrowia lypolitica (MIC = 0.3 mg/mL) using disc diffusion assay. [10]

Flower oil (0.015-4.0%) of C. odorata inhibited the growth of Propionibacterium acnes with inhibition zone of 8.8 mm, Propionibacterium acnes (9.4 mm), Propionibacterium acnes (9.5 mm), Propionibacterium acnes (9.4 mm) and Propionibacterium acnes (9.2 mm) compared to clindamycin (P. acnes = 31.0 mm, P. acnes = 31.2 mm, P. acnes = 30.4 mm, P. acnes = 29.4 mm, P. acnes = 29.1 mm) using agar dilution method. [11]

Antioxidant activity

Hexane extract of C. odorata flower showed antioxidant activity with 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity with inhibition concentration at 50% of growth (IC50) of 170 µg/mL compared to α-tocopherol (IC50 = 12 µg/mL) using DPPH assay. [12]

Hexane extract of C. odorata flower showed antioxidant activity with inhibited hexanal oxidation (IC50) of 185 µg/mL compared to α-tocopherol (IC50 = 14 µg/mL) using aldehyde/carboxylic acid assay. [12]

Ovicidal activity

Essential oil of C. odorata (10%) showed a significant (p < 0.05) effect of minimum egg hatch of three mosquito species with value of 10.4% (Aedes aegypti), 0.8% (Anopheles dirus) and 1.1% (Culex quinquefasciatus). Meanwhile, the effective dose (ED50) values for egg hatch were 1.9% (Aedes aegypti), 1.4% (Anopheles dirus) and 0.5% (Culex quinquefasciatus). [13]

Insecticidal activity

Essential oil extracted from C. odorata flower at doses of 1%, 5%, and 10% (w/v) exhibited low insecticidal activity and knockout rate against all three types of adult mosquito species with lethal concentration (LC50) values of 9.77%(Aedes aegypti), 8.82% (Culex quinquefasciatus) and 4.99% (Anopheles dirus), respectively. [14]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

A study was conducted to investigate the relaxing effect of C. odorata oil involving 40 healthy volunteers aged between 19 and 48 years. These subjects were divided into two groups; C. odorata oil was given to the experimental group and they allowed applying and massaging the oil to their skin for 5 min, while control group received placebo. C. odorata oil caused a significant (p < 0.05) decrease of blood pressure (systolic blood pressure: 106.06 ± 2.14; diastolic blood pressure: 60.50 ± 1.48) and a significant increase of skin temperature (36.97 ± 0.15). At the behavioral level, subjects in the C. odorata oil group rated themselves calmer and more relaxed than subjects in the control group. [15]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of C. odorata [3].


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. & Thomson. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Nov 24]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 67.
  3. Yusuf UK, Sinohin VO. Cananga odorata (Lamk) Hook.f. & Thomson In: Oyen LPA, Nguyen Xuan Dung, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 19: Essential-oil plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 70-74.
  4. Benini C, Mahy G, Bizoux JP, Wathelet JP, du Jardin P, Brostaux Y, Fauconnier ML. Comparative chemical and molecular variability of Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook. f. & Thomson forma genuina (Ylang‐Ylang) in the western Indian ocean islands: Implication for valorization. Chem Biodivers. 2012;9(7):1389-1402.
  5. Megawati, Saputra SWD. A combination of water-steam distillation and solvent extraction of Cananga odorata essential oil. IOSR J Eng (IOSRJEN). 2012;2(10):7.
  6. Jin J, Kim MJ, Dhandapani S, Tjhang JG, Yin JL, Wong L, Sarojam R, Chua NH, Jang IC. The floral transcriptome of ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. fruticosa) uncovers biosynthetic pathways for volatile organic compounds and a multifunctional and novel sesquiterpene synthase. J Exp Botany. 2015;66(13):3959-3975.
  7. Perry LM, Metzger J. Medicinal plants of east and Southeast Asia: Attributed properties and uses. MIT Press: 1980.
  8. Weiner MA. Secrets of Fijian medicine. Berkley: University of California, 1984.
  9. Whistler WA. Tongan herbal medicine. University of Hawaii Press, 1992.
  10. Sacchetti G, Maietti S, Muzzoli M, Scaglianti M, Manfredini S, Radice M, Bruni R. Comparative evaluation of 11 essential oils of different origin as functional antioxidants, antiradicals and antimicrobials in foods. Food Chem. 2005;91(4):621-632.
  11. Luangnarumitchai S, Lamlertthon S, Tiyaboonchai W. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils against five strains of Propionibacterium acnes. Mahidol Uni J Pharm Sci. 2007;34(1-4):60-64.
  12. Wei A, Shibamoto T. Antioxidant activities and volatile constituents of various essential oils. J Agri Food Chem. 2007;55(5):1737-1742.
  13. Phasomkusolsil S, Soonwera M. The effects of herbal essential oils on the oviposition deterrent and ovicidal activities of Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Anopheles dirus (peyton and harrison) and Culex quinquefasciatus (say). Tropical Biomedicine. 2012;29(1):138-150.
  14. Phasomkusolsil S, Soonwera M. Efficacy of herbal essential oils as insecticide against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Culex quinquefasciatus (say) and Anopheles dirus (peyton and harrison). Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2011 Sept;42(5):1083-1092.
  15. Hongratanaworakit T, Buchbauer G. Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption. Phytother Res.2006 Sep;20(9):758-763.