Ylang-ylang flowers grow on trees that can grow up to 70 feet in height. The fragrant flowers of this tree can be distilled down to a very fragrant essential oil that is used for perfume and aromatherapy. In some cultures, such as on some Indonesian islands, the flowers are strewn on a wedding bed. Historically, the oils from the ylang-ylang flowers were popular as macassar oil in European hair care preparations.
Pick the ylang-ylang flowers when they turn yellow. The tree flowers throughout the year and although flowers can be harvested at any time, there are two principle harvest times.
Harvest the spring flowers between April and June. This spring harvest can often take place just after the rainy season in tropical climates. Harvest the flowers by carefully pinching them from the tree. Because ylang-ylang trees can grow quite tall, you may need a ladder to pick flowers higher up on the tree. Place the harvested flowers in a basket.
Harvest the the flowers between September and November. Although this is a moderate harvest, these flowers tend to contain more essential oil than those harvested during or after the rainy season.
Harvest the flowers that bloom between January and March, or during the height of most rainy seasons. Although these flower will be heavier than during the other two harvests, these flowers have the lowest concentration of ylang-ylang oil.