Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

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

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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit, longitudinal section and seeds. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Roxburgh, W. in Carey, W. (ed.) (1820) Flora Indica 1: 130.

Common name

Perfume Tree; Ylang-Ylang; Woolly Pine; Macassar Oil Tree; Cananga


Fibrous stripes forming a lace-like pattern in the blaze but a corresponding pattern or grain not apparent in the wood. Brown bundles of fibres visible in the blaze.


Leaf blades about 8-22 x 5-9 cm. Fine oak grain in the twigs. Scattered or sparsely scattered small oil dots visible with a lens.


Flowers very fragrant. Petals about 5-9 cm long, much larger than the calyx. Anther connective acute and projecting above and covering the anthers. Ovaries 6-13. Ovules 4-8 per ovary. Stigmas +/- fused to form a domed mass.


Fruiting carpels about 20-25 x 10-15 mm on stalks about 10-15 mm long. Seeds about 8 x 5 mm, 3-15 per carpel. Embryo minute, about 0.6-0.8 mm. Cotyledons slightly longer than the radicle.


Cotyledons ovate to elliptic, about 20-25 x 12-15 mm, apex obtuse, base cuneate to obtuse. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces, mainly along midrib and lateral veins; oil dots very small, visible only with a lens. Seed germination time 116 to 170 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP and NEQ, widespread in the area. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. Grows in lowland rain forest. Also occurs in Malesia and SE Asia.

Natural History & Notes

The flowers of this species produce a perfumed oil in glands near the base. This oil can be extracted and has been used in perfumery. Corner (1952).

Fruit eaten by Cassowaries and Fruit Pigeons. The flowers of this species are pleasantly perfumed and are sold in Malaysian markets. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

Uvaria odorata Lam., Encyclopedie methodique Botanique 1: 595(1785), Type: Malesia?. Fitzgeraldia mitrastigma F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 6: 1(1868), Type: In silvis ad sinum Rockinghams Bay. Dallachy.
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