The Legend Of Ylang Ylang (Perfume Tree)

The sweet smelling ylang-ylang. (cananga odorata)
The sweet smelling ylang-ylang. (cananga odorata) | Source

The sweet aroma of the ylang-ylang. No wonder the flowers of this tree is highly regarded in aromatherapy and even on making perfumes. That is why one of the common names of the ylang ylang is the "perfume tree ." And for somehow, looking at the ylang-ylang flower reminds me of either a star or the starfish because of its shape.

The flowers of the ylang-ylang are made into a necklace in the Philippines and worn into different kind of occasions, whether it could be a graduation, a party, or for welcoming visitors and tourists. The sweet aroma of the fresh flower is inviting. Even the dried cluster of flowers still has the fragrant in them. Students just love tucking the flowers in their books and notes, and I think I had done it myself too when I was in high school. Somehow it is comforting of seeing that ylang-ylang flower while flipping into notes when it was already forgotten of being in there.

But how did the ylang-ylang got the the sweet aroma? There is also a legend that goes with it.

The goddesses are in charge on which of the trees will bear flowers.
The goddesses are in charge on which of the trees will bear flowers. | Source

A long time ago, the goddesses are in charge of selecting which of the trees are worth their blessing to bear flowers. Some of the lucky trees which they blessed are the calachuchi tree, katuray or the scarlet wisteria, the mango tree, the adelfa and many others.

But there's this one tree which hadn't been blessed to bear flowers. That is the ylang-ylang tree.

This made ylang-ylang so sad as the tree also want to bear flowers. Ylang-ylang overheard its fellow trees nearby proudly talking about their beautiful flowers to one another. The neighboring trees became boastful as each one believes they are prettier than one another.

"Trees that doesn't flower should be cut down instead. That would be useful on home building or for firewood," ylang-ylang overheard the other trees talking. This made the ylang-ylang tree sorrowful. The poor tree cried at night as no one would be able to hear the sobs, specially the boastful neighboring trees.

It rained so hard one day. It looks as if a storm is coming. All the flowering trees prepared for the storm they are all expecting to come that day. The trees clang tightly on the ground and their flowers to the trunks so their precious flowers won't get carried away by the strong wind and rain. On the other hand, the ylang-ylang is so unconcerned as it doesn't have any flowers to worry about.

While the rain keep on pouring, there are two woolly worms at the distance looking for a shelter from the furious weather. Both had already asked few of the trees if there's one which can help them and give them shelter. But all the trees they had asked turned them down, specially those with flowers.

"You two would surely eat up our leaves, and not only our leaves, you probably will eat our flowers too," said the flowering trees.

The poor woolly worms left, with the fear that anytime the rising water would surely carry them away.

The ylang-ylang heard the flowering trees drove the two worms away so the flowerless tree called both out loud.

"Hey, why don't you two stay in my trunks? Make yourself comfortable and you're free to eat my leaves for as long as you want," ylang-ylang told the woolly worms. The kind tree thought that the life of the two worms are more important than its leaves and the flowerless trunks it got.

It took few days before the storm ceased. Every tree was excited and happy when the sun showed up. Ylang-ylang was checking its trunks, looking for its new friends, the woolly worms. But it saddened the tree as the woolly worms wasn't on the trunks anymore, they might got carried way by the wind. Both are nowhere to be found.

But the kind tree saw something else on one of its trunks, something clings on the trunk that looks like flowers, two of those. Alas! It was the ylang-ylang's friends. On the middle of the storm, the two woolly worms had transformed to be beautiful butterflies!

The goddesses had learned the good deed the ylang-ylang tree had done.

With a good news, they visited ylang-ylang. They are going to give the gracious tree a reward for thinking about helping others first instead of itself.

"Ylang-ylang, from now on you will bear flowers just like the folded wings of the butterflies that you sheltered," said the goddesses.

But not only that, the flowers of the fortunate ylang-ylang tree has a sweet fragrant that can be smelled on the entire woodland.

This made ylang-ylang very happy. From then on, the ylang-ylang is one of those fragrant flowers that is always admired and appreciated because of its sweetly, fragrant flowers.

Since the goddesses rewarded a gift to flower, the former flowerless tree now bears a beautiful, fragrant flowers.
Since the goddesses rewarded a gift to flower, the former flowerless tree now bears a beautiful, fragrant flowers. | Source

Did you know?

* Other names for ylang-ylang is cananga tree, fragrant cananga, perfume tree and is called kenanga in Indonesia.

* Its name ylang-ylang is derived from Tagalog, (Philippines language) and could either pertain to the word "ilang" (the wilderness) or "ilang-ilan," (which means rare.)

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Comments 7 comments

CR Rookwood profile image

CR Rookwood 4 years ago from Moonlight Maine

What a lovely story! I love the smell of these flowers. My favorite perfume is mostly ylang ylang flowers and not much else. Thank you for the hub!

precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego Author

Glad you enjoyed the legend :) I love this flower too! And when I go to stores, specially in Henry's Market (now Sprouts) I hang around the essential oil section and smell the ylang-ylang and lavender oils. :)

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

How beautiful! Voted as such. I enjoyed reading this one. Great job.

precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego Author

Hello Kittythedreamer :) Wish you a good Sunday and thanks for reading the ylang-ylang's legend. Glad you enjoyed it ^.^'

6hkpgok,m 17 months ago


teddy bear 16 months ago

it story are summary ?/

kyla 16 months ago

i need summary%2222


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