name = Patchouli

image_width = 240px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Lamiales
familia = Lamiaceae
genus = "Pogostemon"
species = "P. cablin"
binomial = "Pogostemon cablin"
binomial_authority = Benth.

Patchouli (also patchouly or pachouli) is a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet (about 0.75 metre) in height and bearing small pale pink-white flowers. The plant is native to tropical regions of Asia and is now extensively cultivated in Caribbean countries, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, West Africa and Vietnam.

Known in the western world as that "Weird Hippy Smell", the scent of patchouli is heavy and strong. It has been used for centuries in perfumes and continues to be so today. The word derives from the Tamil "patchai" பச்சை (green), "ellai" இலை (leaf).

"Pogostemon cablin", "P. commosum", "P. hortensis", "P. heyneasus" and "P. plectranthoides" are all cultivated for their oils and all are known as 'patchouli' oil, but "P. cablin" is considered superior.

Extraction of the essential oil

Extraction of the essential oil is by steam distillation, requiring the cell walls of the leaves to be first ruptured. This can be achieved by steam scalding, light fermentation, or by drying.

Leaves are harvested several times a year, and where dried may be exported for distillation of the oil. Sources disagree over how to obtain the best quality oil. Some claim the highest quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves, distilled close to the plantation,Grieve, Maude(1995) "A Modern Herbal" [] . 2007] while others claim baling the dried leaves and allowing them to ferment a little is best.Leung A, Foster S "Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food, drugs and cosmetics" John Wiley and Sons 1996]


In Europe and the US, patchouli oil and incense underwent a surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly among devotees of the free love and hippie lifestyles. It has also been used as a hair conditioner for dreadlocks. One study suggests Patchouli oil may serve as an outdoor insect repellent."Phytotherapy Research" 2005, vol 19, pp 303–9.] In several Asian countries, such as Japan and Malaysia, Patchouli is also used as an antidote for venomous snakebites.

The plant and oil have a number of claimed health benefits in herbal folk-lore, and its scent is used with the aim of inducing relaxation. Chinese medicine uses the herb to treat headaches, colds, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Patchouli oil can be purchased from mainstream Western pharmacies and alternative therapy sources as an aromatherapy oil.

Patchouli is also in widespread use in modern industry. It is a popular component in perfumes, including more than half of perfumes for menFact|date=June 2007. Patchouli is also an important ingredient in East Asian incense. It is also used as a scent in products like paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners. Two important components of the essential oil is patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.

During the 18th and 19th century silk traders from China travelling to the Middle East packed their silk cloth with dried patchouli leaves to prevent moths from laying their eggs on the cloth.Fact|date=October 2008 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. Fact|date=June 2008.


Patchouli grows well in warm to tropical climates. It thrives in hot weather but not direct sunlight. If the plant withers due to lack of watering it will recover well and quickly once it has been watered. The seed-bearing flowers are very fragrant and bloom in late fall. The tiny seeds may be harvested for planting, but they are very delicate and easily crushed. Cuttings from the mother plant can also be rooted in water to produce further plants.


External links

* [ What is the fragrance patchouli?] , from
* [ Natural Insect Repellents] Natural Insect Repellents

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • patchouli — [ patʃuli ] n. m. • patchaily 1826; du tamoul patch « vert » et ilai « feuille »; cf. angl. patchleaf ♦ Plante (labiacées) des régions tropicales qui fournit une essence très parfumée. ♢ Parfum (souvent ordinaire) extrait de cette plante. «… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Patchouli — Pa*tchou li, Patchouly Pa*tchou ly, n. [CF. F. patchouli; prob. of East Indian origin.] 1. (Bot.) A mintlike plant ({Pogostemon Patchouli}) of the East Indies, yielding an essential oil from which a highly valued perfume is made. [1913 Webster] 2 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Patchouli — (Patschuli), s. Pogostemon …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Patchouli — (patschuli), ein aus dem starkriechenden Kraute Plectranthus graveolens bereitetes Parfüm …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • patchouli — → pachulí o pachuli …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • patchouli — (n.) perfume made from an Indian plant of the mint family, 1845, from the native name for the plant in Madras, said to be from Tamil pachchai green + ilai leaf. The form of the word appears French, but this has not been explained and the record… …   Etymology dictionary

  • patchouli — or patchouly [pach′oo lē, pe cho͞o′lē] n. [Fr, altered < E patch leaf, part transl. of Tamil paccili, lit., green leaf < paccu, green + ilai, a leaf] 1. an East Indian mint (Pogostemon cablin) that yields a heavy, dark brown, fragrant oil 2 …   English World dictionary

  • Patchouli — Pogostemon cablin …   Wikipédia en Français

  • patchouli — indinis pačiulis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Notrelinių šeimos vaistinis augalas (Pogostemon heyneanus), paplitęs pietryčių Azijoje. Iš jo gaunamas eterinis aliejus. atitikmenys: lot. Pogostemon heyneanus angl. false patchouli; Indian… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • PATCHOULI — n. m. Nom d’une plante de l’Inde, remarquable par son odeur aromatique. Pastilles de patchouli. Il désigne, par extension, le Parfum extrait de cette plante. Se parfumer au patchouli. Un savon au patchouli …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 8eme edition (1935)

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