It is one of the great mysteries of the universe: Do Hippies smell like Patchouli or does Patchouli smell like Hippies? Anybody that has ever been around either will know what the other smells like, though. Patchouli is a fragrant herb, with soft, opposite, egg-shaped leaves and square stems, grows from 2 to 3 feet in height, giving out the peculiar, characteristic odour when rubbed.
The dried leaves are commonly burned as incense or mixed with other incense blends. Its use is said to cause loss of appetite and to help with sleep and nervous attacks. The Chinese, Japanese and Arabs believe it to possess prophylactic properties.
Patchouli is used widely in modern perfumery and modern industry to scent products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners. Two important components of its essential oil are patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.
Patchouli is an important ingredient in East Asian incense. Both patchouli oil and incense underwent a surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in the US and Europe, mainly due to the hippie movement of those decades.