Photos of Pogostemon cablin, Patchouli by Steven Foster

Images of Pogostemon cablin, Patchouli, ©2013 Steven Foster

Pogostemon cablin, patchouli. In modern terms, patchouli was first described from specimens collected in the Philippines in 1837 as a species of mint Mentha cablin. Eleven years later it was placed in a different genus and named Pogostemon cablin. The species name “cablin” is derived from a local Philippine name “cablam.” The name patchouli (or patchouly) springs from a Hindu name, “pacholi.” The origin of patchouli's scent confounded British importers for more than 100 years. Indian fabrics and shawls shipped from British India from the mid-1700s were permeated with the fragrance, that for decades were considered proof of a garment’s oriental origins. In 1844, whole dried patchouli leaves were shipped to London, as a new commodity, and the source of the earthy scent was finally revealed.

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