Botanist's Glossary

Patchouli - Pogostemon cablin

  • Description
    • Patchouli looks like a large bushy mint plant and grows up to 60 to 80 cm. Its matte leaves are irregularly toothed and have a very specific, tenacious odor (woody, earthy, smoky, musty, etc.). Its small white flowers form in the leaf axils. Originally from the Indo-Malaysian region, the Pogostemon genus includes over 70 species, some of which are used as substitutes for true patchouli.
  • Traditions
    • Patchouli (whose name comes from a Tamil word, meaning "green leaf") has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes in south-east Asia (antivenom, to treat gastroenteritis, menstrual pains, etc.). Patchouli incense is used in Asian rituals and the scent became popular in Europe in the 19th century. In the 1970's, it became the "smell of hippies". Nowadays, patchouli essence is refined to remove excess components, and it has found its place again in luxury perfumery.
  • Properties
    • Patchouli essential oil has stimulating and fortifying properties. It is also used as a remedy for venous conditions (varicose veins, etc.) in aromatherapy.