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JOY Perfume Tree

Michelia champaca, orange

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Michelia champaca 'alba'

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Zone 10-11

Michelia champaca is native to Indonesia, India and other nearby lands

"Campac" is a tropical evergreen in the Magnoliaceae (Magnolia) family. The leaves are thinner and smaller than those of stiff Magnolias, but in the same shape and brightness of color

The Michelia champaca 'alba' has small white flowers which are very fragrant and extremely pleasant. The flowers produce in great quantities. On a warm humid night, the scents can easily be enjoyed several hundred feet away.   Driving by in your car, you will notice the scent immediately

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People and every insect you can imagine are attracted to the blooms. These are flowers you don't have to "stick your nose in" as the scent exudes from the tree. Nectar insects appear frantic, driven like drug addicts, bashing into each other to get to the heart of every flower on the tree

The 'alba' blooms during the warm months in South Florida.  Sometimes few flowers are growing, other times there are many.  It has a wonder rounded shape.  This tree does not produce seeds (in Florida) and propagation from cuttings does not work either

There is also an "Orange champak" (or "champaka" is the Sanskrit name), a taller tropical evergreen with yellow-orange flowers. In native lands it blooms in April and May then fruits in July and August.  In South Florida, blooms extend into September for sure.  This orange champak does seed in Florida

It is even more intensely fragrant than 'alba' while blooming almost all year around. The flowers are 4-5 times larger than 'alba', but not in South Florida where they appear about 3X larger

        I have a beautiful orange joy tree in my yard here in Naples (Florida).  Planted it two years ago and I thought it was a good size then. It has been growing like crazy. The scent from the flowers is so strong people can't believe it's from a tree. I feel very fortunate to have it.  Marilee

It is the oil of this Michelia that is the essence of JOY, the world's most expensive perfume

As we understand it, the tree is commercial for perfume production in the Philippines, its oils available as a concentrate.  There is a new perfume from Dior named J'adore which uses this tree for fragrance

In Indonesia, the tan to white medium-hard wood is used for carvings. It is prized because a bitter alkaloid in the tissues makes the wood insect resistant. It is also used for planking, doors, furniture, canoes, and house-building

In other native countries, the tree's leaves, juice and bark are used by locals to cure problems including Conjunctivitis, dandruff, lice and worm infections

We are aware of only one 'alba' in all of Broward County...and we planted it

A long time ago we had seen only one live Orange champak, about 2 feet tall in an exotic 'private' nursery and it was not for sale at any price. After that, we found one about 12 feet tall in Fort Lauderdale in 1993. Today many are planted and flowering to the delight of whole neighborhoods in Florida

The 'alba' we were able to purchase was about 30 inches tall, nearly leafless and cost more than a sizable field grown palm. They are RARE

Our 'alba' was planted in full sun in sandy soil heavily enhanced with a top-quality nursery mix with 20% composted manure included. We also planted on a rise with perfect drainage (taking no chances). The little guy took off immediately then, 4 years later, hit 15 feet tall, round and fat, looking quite happy. The 'alba' blooms during warm months in South Florida

For tropical fragrance, only the Ylang-Ylang and Milky Way Tree is in the same league as these two trees