On one of the tree walks conducted by a seasoned naturalist Karthikeyan Srinivasan , I was delighted to find this flower Manoranjitham. Vivid memories of my childhood rushed to my mind – My grandmother used to oil my hair and adorn my plait with flowers. She used to stitch the jasmine and manoranjitham flowers on my plait for hours together and I was expected to keep it for at least two days till the flowers completely lost its fragrance and became bone dry. I obliged considering the effort behind the flower plaits. It was rewarding indeed, a mixture of fragrant flowers leaving an alluring aroma on my hair. I am at loss of words to describe the captivating aroma of this flower, one has to experience it to appreciate it. Thanks to my grandmother because of this routine, I could identify some flowers and appreciate their fragrance.
On one of the second Sunday trails at Lalbagh we found another flower that belonged to the same family Annonaceae. On browsing further it was found to be the Cananga fruticosa which grows as compact shrub.
The flowers of the Ylang Ylang are pollinated by night moths; therefore the most intensive smell is released from dusk until dawn. These flowers are gathered in the dark or at dawn to conserve the scent which rapidly dissipates in heat after sunrise. Its really amazing indeed to know that plants let out the aroma only when required.
Another interesting fact about the climbing Ylang-ylang , they climb by means of recurved hooks on its branches. The hooks form in linear series and can become swollen and woody after becoming attached to an object. Because the hooks are an obvious feature, they have frequently been described and illustrated, but interpreted variously as modified portions of inflorescences. Reference
Decoctions of the leaves are used as a remedy for cholera and have been found to exhibit antifertility effects in rats. The essential oil of A. odoratissimus (Manoranjitham) has shown excellent to good antihelmintic property, Its flowers are used in the treatment of vomiting, biliousness, blood and heart diseases, itching, sweating, foul breath, thirst and headache. Extract of fruits is cardiac depressant followed by cardiac stimulant, hypotensive and spasmogenic. Flower extract possesses strong antifungal properties. click here for the Reference. Recent research has shown that extracts of this plant has been found to have anticancer, anti-HIV AND antimalarial properties too. Though this drug was practiced by the tribals, scientific documentation has not been made on the pharmacological aspects of this plant.
Despite being a valuable medicinal plant it is sad that this plant has been used for a different reason, to make perfumes. The Artabotrys odaratissimus also known as ylang–ylang is the key ingredient of Chanel No. 5 a popular perfume due to its intoxicating fragrance. In addition to Chanel #5, Ylang Ylang is used in other perfumes such as “Aqua De Gio” by Giorgio Armani, “Poison” by Christian Dior, and “Elise Fields” (“Champs Elysee”) by Guerlain.
“Nature has been providing medicines to treat our diseases and relieve our suﬀering for many thousands of years. Despite great advances in rational drug design, in which new medicines ares synthesized based on scientiﬁc knowledge of speciﬁc molecular targets, most prescribed medicines used in industrialized countries today are still derived from, or patterned after, natural compounds from plants, animals, and microbes. This is particularly true for drugs that treat infections and cancers. Most people in the developing world also rely on medicines from natural sources,mostly from plants.” Quote from report on How our health depends on biodiversity by Aaron Bernstein and Eric Chivian
This plant is native to India ,China, Burma and Philippines. India is one of the largest cultivators and this plant has been found to grow on any kind of soil and climate.