Patchouli is a species of plant from the mint family. It is native to tropical regions of Asia, and is now extensively cultivated in China, Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, South America and the Caribbean.
The distinctive scent of patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes, incense, and medicine. The word derives from the Tamil patchai ellai (Tamil: பச்சை இலை) green leaf.
Rich cultural practices and health traditions of India offer insight into various holistic benefits of Patchouli essential oil. Though the patchouli herb had been used for many centuries in Asian countries, it came to be appreciated in Europe only in 1840s through its unique aroma associated with the exported Indian fabrics. This led to the popularization of patchouli and extraction of its essential oil.