The low, gnarled ylang-ylang (e-lang-e-lang) tree is seen in plantations all over Nosy Be. Its scented green or yellow flowers are distilled to make essential oil for perfume. The trees are pruned into low, rather grotesque shapes to make harvesting easier.
Distillation at the large ylang-ylang distillery at Lemuria Land takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday year-round, or daily in the rainy season (January-end March). The whole process of turning these somewhat insignificant flowers into a valuable essential oil is explained.
The distillery is also home to a small zoo, including a large lemur park. It’s a shame to see these animals in cages or confined to tiny islands (lemurs can’t swim) when they can be viewed in their natural environment just a few kilometres away at Lokobe.
To reach the distillery head east from Hell-Ville along the Route de Marodokana for 3km. All taxi drivers know where the place is (Ar50,000 for the return trip, including an hour waiting time).