Patchouli, a woody, oriental fragrance
Patchouli, or Pogostemon cablin is a plant with a small, pale, pink-white flower that comes from the mint or deadnettle family. It grows as a perennial, bushy herb where its large leaves are particularly fragrant and have irregular edges which are covered in fine hairs. The stems, also covered in fine hairs, can reach up to 75 centimetres in height.
As Patchouli thrives in warm, humid climates and is known for its fragrant essential oil, where over 90% of the global volume is produced in Indonesia.
The essential oil is extracted from the plant by drying the leaves and twigs and then steam distillation is used. Harvesting can be carried out several times each year, however, there are a couple of suggestions about when the best quality oil is produced. One suggests it is produced from freshly dried leaves where the oil is distilled close to where the leaves were harvested, whilst the other says it is best to extract the oil by boiling the dried leaves and leaving them to ferment over a period of time.
How Patchouli smells
The scent of Patchouli can be described as a sweet smell that would be a member of the musky-earthy category. Although the plants hail from the mint family, it does not smell cool and fresh in the way you may be familiar with the mint scent. The patchouli scent is incredibly strong and therefore extremely useful in the production of scented candles, fragrances and cosmetics and works very well as a base note.
This scent is very versatile and pairs well with many different fragrances such as sandalwood, vetiver or bergamot. It also works well with floral tones, sweet scents and even citrus scents such as jasmine or orange.
Patchouli has been used widely in the production of perfumes and fragrances for centuries, however it also has many other uses and features as an ingredient in other products such as laundry detergents, air fresheners and incense. In China the leaves are ground up and used as key ingredients for several herbal medicines and can also be used to make a herbal tea.