Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin,
Patchouli is native to the Malay Archipelago and West Indies, where it was grown in the medicinal herb garden. Patchouli was used to trean fungal and skin problems, stomach ailments and as a natural insecticide and antiseptic.
Patchouli oil is an essential ingredient in many modern perfumes, especially those with an earthy undertone.
Dried patchouli leaves have been used to prevent moth and insect damage in woolen and silk fabrics or garments for centuries. Napolean brought the patchouli scent to Europe with a few cashmere shawls he acquired in Egypt. The demand for similar shawls was tremendous… however, they quickly fell out of favor because they didn’t smell the same as the originals. Some enterprising merchant discovered that the exotic scent wasn’t from the cashmere but rather from the plant material used to protect the shawls from insect damage. Once he was able to include the patchouli leaves in his storage, his shawls sold like mad! Needless to say, the source of the scent was a closely guarded secret for quite some time.
Patchouli leaves were included in shipments of silk cloth to protect the fabric from insect damage.
And of course, if you are “of that age”, you may recognize the scent of patchouli as being typical and prevalent of your youth in the 60s and 70s.
Today, patchouli is wildly popular in many artisan and craft items such as candles and soap.
Harvest your patchouli leaves on a dry morning to get the best and strongest scent.