You are currently viewing Patchouli essential oil:  uses and history of a unique oriental aroma

Patchouli essential oil: uses and history of a unique oriental aroma

Patchouli, also known as pachuli, is a perennial plant with serrated leaves which is capable of reaching 90 centimetres (35 inches). Natural from Indonesia, its name derives from Tamil words patchai (green) and ellai (leave).

A great deal of its fame is due to the important position that its essential oil occupies in the world of fragrances, where it is essential for the elaboration of thousands of essences which use its musky olfactory notes  with woody and earthy touches capable of captivating perfumers from all over the world.

Just like many other aromatic plants such as rosemary and thyme, patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It grows strong in tropical climates, but it cannot cope with long periods of sunlight.

Patchouli flowers bloom in late autumn, and although they give a powerful fragrance off, it is from the distilling of its dry leaves that the essential oil of the plant is obtained.

We already know the origin of this raw material of great importance in sectors like perfumery, air fresheners or cosmetics, but how did the use of this essential oil become so popular?



Even though it is original from Southeast Asia, the first patchouli crops that we have evidence of would be located in southern India, where it received the name from which its current denomination comes.

Although in cultures like China patchouli would be mainly introduced for its medicinal properties, it would be their attributes as an insect repellent what would bring this plant closer to the West.

Following the Silk Road from Orient, merchants used fried patchouli leaves to cover their fabrics in order to protect them from moths. As a result of this practice, the valuable products imported from abroad would be coated by the essence of patchouli. This aroma went from being a natural insect repellent to becoming one of the main hallmarks of these exotic oriental garments.

In the second half of the 20th century, patchouli essential oil aroma would be one of the main aromas of the American counterculture, gaining a huge number of enthusiasts withing the hippie movement.



Patchouli is very popular in the field of fragrance design. With its sweet and intense aroma, it helps to fix other essences and extend the duration of perfumes, which makes it a frequently used choice in the base of many air fresheners like candles and mikados.

The versatility of this oil and its fixing characteristics position it as a part of a vast variety of products such as fragrances with citrus touches like those of bergamot, and perfumes which intend to give the combination an oriental touch with its presence.

At Destilerías Muñoz Gálvez, we use the best quality patchouli essential oil to develop fragrances intended for applications as varied as air fresheners or detergency, turning this exotic essence into a unique base on which to settle hundreds of original aromas.

Do you want to include the properties of patchouli essential oil in your project? Contact us without any obligation.