Ylang Ylang

Zanzibar: photo by thinkingmagpie

Zanzibar | My own photo

I was sitting at a beach side café, enjoying the gentle sea breeze and the sight of fishing boats gliding through the calm, turquoise blue water. Not many tourists were around. The local shop owners were all concerned about the backlash of the recent Arab Spring which took place throughout the region. “Not many tourists come here now. They are all afraid.” Drinking coffee in this kind of tranquil setting, you could almost forget the troubles sweeping through this small Indian Ocean Island.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang

As I stood up to pay, I caught a delicate sweet whiff of something from the garden. Being obsessed with plants and fragrances, I trotted to the source of the smell to find out what it was. There, among the lush green tropical plants, was a small tree with greenish yellow flowers. I immediately recognised it as Ylang Ylang; the Flower of Flowers.

Any of us “perfume nuts” knows Ylang Ylang. It plays an important role in Chanel No. 5, Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, Estee Lauder Amber Ylang Ylang, Givenchy Ysatis to name a few. Its warm and sensual quality has been admired by many perfumers throughout decades.

Ylang Ylang’s sweet, earthy floral aroma is comforting and calming, yet it has got seductive and alluring sides to it. It’s not surprising that it’s been identified as an embodiment of the Goddess, or the Divine Feminine in some cultures.

“She is love combined with power, creating the potential for a more powerful love and a more loving power. She is also joy and love of life, particularly life as we experience it through the Earth and her cycles. We live in a beautiful physical world, and in order to survive in it and fulfil our birthright of enjoying ourselves here, we must reclaim the Goddesses and myths which celebrate life and its cycles.”

The author Hallie Iglehart Austen says in the Introduction of her book; The Heart of the Goddess. The Goddess is another word for Love; physical, emotional and spiritual.

In some parts of the world, Ylang Ylang oil has been used in love potions to attract the opposite sex. Some believe it to be the best aphrodisiac, as it induces feelings of warmth and sensuality. It also finds its place in tantric ritual and sex magic as a calming agent that helps lower inhibitions and gives an erotic atmosphere to enrich the whole experience. Its properties to alleviate depression and anxiety, while relax the body and induce the feelings of joy are well documented in Aromatherapy as well.

Stone Town, Zanzibar | My own photo

Stone Town, Zanzibar | My own photo

After leaving the café with some Ylang Ylang flowers from the tree, I called in one of the gift shops in Stone Town to buy an Ylang Ylang soliflower solid perfume which I’d been eyeing for some time. It was cheap, contained only locally produced Ylang Ylang oil and coconut oil. It’s been over a year since we left the place but, whenever I smell this, I can still see the bright colours of flowers, ocean and flowing women’s kanga, and brings me back to the 4 months we spent in the island of Zanzibar.


I’m still looking for a divine Ylang Ylang perfume. I’m currently yearning for Yin & Ylang by Sonoma Scent Studio to try. Do you have any suggestion or recommendation for other Ylang Ylang perfume?

12 thoughts on “Ylang Ylang

  1. What a beautiful picture. If I were only rich I would come to visit you and maybe end up living there.
    You write so wonderfully. Its like taking a mini vacation from my cold wet climate at the moment.
    I hope you are doing well. ^ ^ Sending love your way. Hugs my friend. ❤

  2. Hi Magpie, beautiful post- 4 months at Zanzibar, it sounds like an adventure. I’m not sure anything can live up to your ylang ylang concrete from that special place, but (and because Ylang and Vanille is long DC’ed) I’d suggest Lys Soleia, sunshine in a bottle. Yes technically it’s named after the lily, but there’s plenty of gorgeous ylang ylang too. Also, I haven’t tried Ylang in Gold by Micallef, but remember that it got great reviews when it came out. Good hunt 🙂

    • Hi Asali,
      Lys Soleia & Ylang in Gold sound nice! I must try them. 🙂
      I think Zanzibar is one of those places either you love or hate. I used to love walking around the maze like streets of Stone Town. It certainly was an adventure!

  3. Hi Thinking Magpie!

    So I’m here checking out your blog and I haven’t gotten very far but am already charmed by your exquisite photos and your artwork (like your drawing of the Puredistance M bottle), not to mention your writing. I’ll add you to my blogroll when I next update (sometime this week).

    I love ylang-ylang as a perfume note, and probably my favorite perfume in which I get a prominent hit of it is Guerlain Samsara in the extrait concentration. Of course, there is more going on there than ylang-ylang, but I do think of ylang-ylang, jasmine and sandalwood as forming a gorgeous triptych in that perfume.

    • Hi Suzanne!
      Thank you for popping over and being so kind! I’ve just added your blog to mine. 🙂
      I’ve never tried extrait version Samsara, only in EDP and EDT. Yes, actually, even in EDP I could smell a good dose of Ylang Ylang. Samsara is a gorgeous perfume. I love it.

  4. Ylang Ylang is in many of the perfumes I like but I’m not sure I recognize the note since I haven’t smelled it either as a real flower or even as a soliflore. But I hope you’ll find your dream perfume (and share with us a review : ) ).

    Beautiful picture!

  5. Hi Undina!
    I definitely recommend you to have a sniff of Ylang Ylang essential oil at a health food store or somewhere like that. Once you smell it, you’ll never forget! It gives me such a sense of calmness and grounding.
    I’ll continue with my hunting for the perfect Ylang Ylang perfume 🙂

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