CHAMPA – a profile
By Jeanne Rose ~ 2023
CHAMPACA, Magnolia champaca, also seen as M. aurantiaca and Michelia alba, has many common names including all forms of Champa, Shamba, and more.
Family ~ Michelia is one of the most popular flowering trees and the genus is now called Magnolia. It belongs to one of the ancient families of the plant kingdom having existed for 95 million years. This family Magnoliaceae of flowering plants with many species most of which have bisexual flowers.
COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ Champaca tree is native to South Asia, Indochina, and southern China. The CO2-extracted oil comes from India.
ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ The species, Magnolia champaca, is famous for its lush aromatic flower and is included in IUCN red list species as threatened in its geographical distribution range.2 Champaca flowers are often used during festivals as necklaces or hair bands.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH MICHELIA CHAMPACA is a large evergreen tree used as a timber tree. It is a hardwood with a long straight trunk with a close tapering crown. It is a medium-growing tree, attaining a height of 33 m or more, and can attain a size of 2-4 m around its middle. The bark is light gray and smooth, and the leaves are generally long and wide, shining above, hairless on the other side; the old leaves are yellow. In general, it grows in moist, deep, well-drained, good-quality soil. It grows in deep valleys, and some grow best in foothills In its natural habitat, M. champaca grows in areas where temperatures are up to 47.5°C and annual rainfall is 100 inches or more. It thrives in a damp climate.
CHAMPACA flowers are usually not distilled, but CO2 extracted ~ It is picked fresh, and then semi-dried and sent to the extraction plant. Extraction of the fresh flowers of Michelia champaca L. with liquid CO2 provides a floral extract with a yield of 1.0 ± 0.04 wt.%. 4
Yield ~ solvent-free supercritical CO2 extraction of flowers had a higher yield than the essential oil, and in one study the yield of the concrete was 1.5 ± 0.05% vs. essential oil in 0.03% yield.3
CHAMPACA FLOWERS ARE USED ~ for the extraction of the scent by carbon dioxide extraction for an absolute.
ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS of Champaca CO2
- Color – dark brown with a yellowish cast
- Clarity – Opaque
- Viscosity – semi-viscous
- Intensity of odor – 4
- Tenacity of odor – 5
- Taste – bitter
ODOR DESCRIPTION/ AROMA ASSESSMENT ~ The scent is deeply floral and wood with many sub-notes that include hay, leather, and powder.
“Magnolia champaca, is rare and has a strong perfume, and is used – for example in hair it is worn singly or as a small corsage but rarely as a whole garland, and for bridal beds, it is most often with Jasmine and Roses and in bowls of water to be placed around rooms for colorful decoration and for the perfumed flowers.”
I have Champa that I use as perfume.
It comes from flowers abloom.
In the bedroom, it seems
When my heart is abeam
Champa blooms and then there’s perfume, I assume.
This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals
GENERAL PROPERTIES of Champa
The extract from the flowers is used in the preparation of perfume. Medicinally, the tree has wide applications; the bark is used to prepare a tonic and as a fever reducer, the leaves to feed silkworms and make tea, the wood cut into boards for tea boxes and furniture, the oil extracted from flowers is used for perfumery, whole plant extracts used to treat coughs and arthritis, and for relieving eye troubles and gout.
Properties and Uses ~ The plant is scientifically stated to exhibit antipyretic, anti-inflammatory,, antioxidant, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, antidiabetic, and analgesicactivities.6
SKINCARE WITH CHAMPA OIL ~ Champa is a somewhat drying oil, useful for normal to oily skin. Mixed with carrier oil and other skin-loving scents and oils, it absorbs quickly into the skin leaving it smooth, hydrated, and silky.
DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION ~ Champa works very well when used in a blend with citrus oils, or with Lavender oil. It will soften the bright scent of the citrus and floral notes, and when diffused is very pleasant in a room, particularly the living room or bedrooms.
EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USE ~ “Champa is considered a sacred incense that purifies personal space, clearing out stagnant or negative energy and filling your space with positive vibrations. It is known for its calming powers reducing stress and anxiety. Cleanse, purify, and protect your energy with a blend that includes Champa.
Champa is the oil of the day.
It is sweet and reminds you of hay.
When the morning is over
I feel like I’m in Clover
Rolling in Champa until May
CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~ “M. champaca is famous for the sweet odor of its blossoms. The flower possesses a scent that can be described as a fresh, floral and strong sweet jasmine-like scent. Most of the aromatic compounds encountered have rather strong odors, and especially the esters are regarded as possessing floral notes. Methyl benzoate (heavy-sweet, deep-floral), indole (floral character highly reminiscent of jasmine and orange blossom), and 1,8-cineole (fresh, camphoraceous) are contributing significantly to the fragrance of M. champaca flowers.” 5.
PERFUMERY with Champa ~ The tree flowers were traditionally used to make fragrant hair and massage oils. The vernacular name “Joy perfume tree” comes from this. Many perfumers are using Champaca Absolute as single-note fragrances or in blends for perfumery.
Blends Best with florals, woods, Lavender, and citrus type of odors.
Fun Day Champaca Perfume from 2013
Top Note is composed of
25 drops Grapefruit (pink or white)
15 drops Bergamot
Bridge: 1 drop Cardamom
2 drops Litsea cubeba
Heart Note is composed of
10 drops Neroli
10 drops Ylang-ylang
15 drops Petitgrain
5 drops Champaca.
Bridge Note: Amber or Amber complex
Base Note is composed of
20 drops Champaca
20 drops Vanilla Abs
Make and succuss each note individually and allow it to age for at least a week. Then add your neutral spirits. I prefer neutral grape spirits from Organicalcohol.com. 240 drops of neutral grape spirits. Succuss again and age for at least two weeks to let the scents incorporate. You will now have 33% active perfume ingredients.
CHAMPACA SOLID WAX is left after the absolute is removed making an excellent base for a solid perfume. This floral wax has all the properties for good skin care and it smells delightful. Floral waxes are created as a result of solvent extraction that is used on delicate flowers whose scent would be destroyed by steam distillation. Floral waxes are available to add scent and texture to skincare products as well as the incredible moisturizing capability for the skin. Champaca helps to moisturize, soothe and soften, it is a free radical scavenger, is skin-protective, and is recommended for products to restore the skin to a smoother surface.
HYDROSOL ~ I have never had a real bottle of Champaca hydrosol to use. And thus, do not have any experience with it. There are some who pick the flowers, soak them in water for a few hours to extract some scent, and then hydro/steam-distilled with that extraction water, with low heat and slowly, for the hydrosol.
PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.
HERBAL USES OF CHAMPA ~ The flowers are used in South Asia for several purposes. In India, they are primarily used for worship at temples, and in the home, and are generally worn in the hair by girls and women for beauty and as a natural perfume. You can float the flowers in bowls of water to scent the room, weave them together in garlands, or as a fragrant decoration for bridal beds.
HISTORICAL/RELIGIOUS USES ~ Michelia champaca is also known as Champa, Yellow Champa, Golden Campa, or Fragrant Champa. It is highly revered by the followers of Hinduism and Buddhism who use Michelia flowers during religious ceremonies. Tibetans believe that the Buddha will find enlightenment under the white flower canopy of the champaca tree.
INTERESTING INFORMATION ~ The extract from the flowers of Michelia (Magnolia) alba is used in the preparation for the famous ‘Joy’ perfume.
The civet of Sri Lanka, Paradoxurus montanus is said to have a very pleasant odor that is somewhat similar to Champaca flowers. This is unlike other civets that have a urinous odor.
ABSTRACT/SCIENTIFIC DATA from 2008 ~ Results ~ M. champaca was studied and the ethanolic extract exhibited significant antihyperglycemic activity but did not produce hypoglycemia in fasted normal rats. Apart from this extract, the crude aqueous and petroleum ether extracts were found active only at the end of the first hour. Treatment of diabetic rats with ethanolic extract of this plant restored the elevated biochemical parameters significantly … and the activity was found dose-dependent.
Conclusion: This study supports the traditional claim that the ethanolic extract of this plant could be added to traditional preparations for the ailment of various diabetes-associated complications.1
KEY USE ~ This is a fine scent that is useful in perfumery and in your yoga or meditative practice.
This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals
- Jarald E, Joshi S B, Jain D C. Antidiabetic activity of flower buds of Michelia champaca Linn. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2023 Feb 2];40:256-60
- Composition of the concrete, absolute, headspace and essential oil of the flowers of Michelia champaca Linn. https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.1742
- Liquid CO2 extraction of flowers and fractionation of floral concrete of Michelia champaca Linn by Prasant K. Rout, Satyanarayan Naik, Y. Ramachandra Rao.
5.Volatiles from Michelia champaca Flower: Comparative analysis by Simultaneous Distillation-Extraction and Solid Phase Microextraction. Disnelys Báeza , Diego Moralesa and Jorge A. Pinob.
6. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Michelia champaca in gut, airways, and cardiovascular disorders by Fatima Saqib, et all : Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 2018, Volume 11, issue 4, pages 292-296.
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, California:
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992