Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth; also patchouly or pachouli) is a species of plant from the genus Pogostemon. Patchouli belongs to mint family. This wonderful herb is green bushy. The genus of patchouli is Pogostemon and it may grows up to two or three feet in height. The flower color of this herb is delicate pinkish-white. The leafs are aromatic and are being used in perfumary since long long ago. The leafs have a strong and wonderful scent characterstics. The native place of Patchouli is tropical regions of Asia, but patchouli grows in all warm to tropical climates very well. Currently all Asia cultivate many many varieties of the Pogostemon genus. Aromatic oil known in West Africa and South America as patchouli oil.
The origination of the term patchouli comes from very ancient Tamil words patchai, which means "green", and ellai means "leaf". The native land of this herb, is easily identified by it's name which is Dravidian. The Dravidian language is being spoken by mostly Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. The plant was brought to the Middle East along the silk route, and it was thanks to the famous conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte that patchouli reached Europe. Napoleon brought to France a couple of patchouli-scented cashmere shawls that he found in Egypt. The shawls were redolent of patchouli oil, which was used to repel insects and protect them from moths, but the origin of the scent was held as closely guarded secret.
Wonderful patterns of the oriental fabrics have soon become easy to replicate, but sneaky European manufacturers were still forced to import the fragrant oil from the East. The secret was finally broken in 1837, when Francisco Manuel Blanco first described patchouli as Mentha cablin, revealing the secret of the mysterious oriental scent to the rest of the western world.It 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 heavy and strong scent of patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes and, more recently, in incense, insect repellents, and alternative medicines. Pogostemon cablin, P. commosum, P. hortensis, P. heyneasus and P. plectranthoides are all cultivated for their essential oil, known as patchouli oil.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 water, it will recover well and quickly after rain or watering. The seed-producing flowers are very fragrant and blossom 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 additional plants.Extraction of patchouli's essential oil is by steam distillation of the leaves, requiring rupture of its cell walls by steam scalding, light fermentation, or drying.
Leaves may be harvested several times a year and, when dried, may be exported for distillation. Some sources claim the best quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves distilled close to where they are harvested; others that baling the dried leaves and fermenting them for a period of time is best.Patchouli is used widely in modern perfumery and modern scented industrial products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners. Two important components of its essential oil are patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.Patchouli is an important ingredient in East Asian incense. Both patchouli oil and incense underwent a surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in the US and Europe, mainly as a result of the hippie movement of those decades.