PATCHOULI ESSENTIAL OIL (POGOSTEMON CABLIN):
Botanical Name: Pogostemon cablin
Common Method of Extraction: Steam distillation
Part Typically Used: Young leaves
Color: Light yellow to dark brown in color
Consistency: Medium – Thick
Perfumery Note: Base
Strength of Initial Aroma: Rich musky-sweet, strong spicy and herbaceous smell
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco), patchouly or pachouli) is a species of plant from the genus Pogostemon. It is a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching 0,75 m in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant is native to tropical regions of Asia, and is now extensively cultivated in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as West Africa.
The plant is native to Malaysia and India, where it is known as ”puchaput”. The word is derived from Hindustan word ”patch” meaning ”green” and ”ilai” meaning ”leaf”.
During the 18th and 19th century, silk traders from China traveling to the Middle East packed their silk cloth with dried patchouli leaves to prevent moths from laying their eggs on the cloth. Many historians speculate that this association with opulent Eastern goods is why patchouli was considered by Europeans of that era to be a luxurious scent. It is said that patchouli was used in the linen chests of Queen Victoria in this way.
Although this essential oil may remind people of the hippie era. Patchouli is an important ingredient in East Asian incense. Both patchouli oil and incense underwent a surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in the US and Europe, mainly as a result of the hippie movement of those decades.
Patchouli oil is extracted from the young leaves which are dried and fermented prior to steam distillation and yields 2 – 3 %. This oil improves with age to have a fuller, more well rounded odor. Leaves may be harvested several times a year and, when dried, may be exported for distillation. Some sources claim a highest quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves distilled close to where they are harvested, others that baling the dried leaves and fermenting them for a period of time is best.