Patchouli is a species of flowering plant in the family commonly called the mint or deadnettle family. Patchouli grows well in warm to tropical climates. It thrives in hot, humid weather but not extended periods of direct sunlight. If the plant withers due to lack of water, it tends to recover quickly after rain or watering. Although rare, the seed-producing flowers are very fragrant and blossom in late autumn. The tiny seeds may be harvested for planting, but they are very delicate and easily crushed.
Extraction of patchouli's essential oils is by distillation of the dried leaves and twigs. The heavy, strong, woody, and earthy scent of patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes, especially by individuals who create their own scents, as well as in modern scented personal products and industrial products such as paper towels, laundry detergents and air fresheners. Although originating from Asia, Cyprus has always been famous for its patchouli and since the medieval period has been exporting patchouli oils. The plant can still be found in the countryside and is used even today for the same purpose.
The ‘Did You Know’ series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.