July 8, 2012
Tropical flowers and fruits bring to mind soft breezes, warm air, and rich fragrances with a deep blue ocean in the background. Tropical flowers are used for welcome, for decoration, for scenting and pampering the body, for health, and for filling the garden to overflowing. Paradise is closely tied to the smell of sweet, rich, mouth-watering floral and fruit scents that fill the air. In the Virgin Islands, white frangipani hangs from the cliffs, the delicate white blooms obvious in a sea of verdant green. Many times the tough gray trees with their fragile, fragrant blossoms are hanging from pure rocks on the seaside cliffs over the blue waters of the Caribbean.
The Tiare flower of Tahiti glows white and pure above the dark green leaves of the shrub, is a traditional aid to Tahitian beauty, and has been an important part of island life for nearly 2,500 years. Macerated in coconut oil, tiare buds produce Monoi oil for the skin and hair; it is tenderly rubbed into newborns to keep them from dehydrating or even from getting cold. Frangipani and Tiare aromas are languid, heady, exotic, and sweetly floral with undertones of vanilla. Frangipani often smells of peaches – ripe and juicy ones! These are the flowers of welcome and are beautifully used in personal decoration behind the ears, as leis or floral necklaces.
Frangipani is also known as plumeria from the scientific name and is native to Mexico and Central America. It’s a member of the same family as dogbane and related to oleander. With its beautiful flowers, amazing fragrance and ease of transplanting, it was a popular plant for early explorers to transport and is now found in tropical and sub-tropical areas around the world. Christian missionaries in Australia arriving from Samoa and Vanuatu brought sacred frangipani trees to plant around the missions in remote northern tropical areas. The missionaries eventually abandoned the missions but the frangipani, coconut palms and mango trees have survived harsh weather and fires. The name plumeria comes from the French botanist, Charles Plummier, who first catalogued the plant. Frangipani, on the other hand, was the name of a popular perfume in Europe during the time of the explorers who discovered the plants and they named the flower after the perfume. So we have a flower named after a perfume instead of the other way around. Frangipani flowers can symbolize shelter and protection or peace and tranquility, but are also symbols of death and funerals in Bangladesh.
Sunlight and silver won't kill a Pontianak… move over Dracula, Lestat and Eric Northman
In Malaysian folklore, the scent of frangipani is associated with vampires known as Pontianak, women who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages . According to myth, men who are not wary will be killed and castrated when she morphs into a hideous being who feeds on the blood of her victims which include pregnant women and babies. –MC
Frangipani is also closely associated with religion and is known as the pagoda or temple tree. The flowers form a nearly perfect spiral in the bud and open to a spiral shaped blossom with 5 petals; the blooms can be white, white and yellow, yellow, orange, pink or deep red. The tree itself has grayish-green bark and the branches are stubby and cylindrical. They break easily and if left on the ground will sprout and begin to grow new leaves. Frangipani flowers are too delicate for distillation and are solvent extracted producing a lovely absolute that is semi-solid, strongly fragrant and heady, with definite tropical notes. In addition, the blooms continue to release their scent upon being picked and many artisan perfumers will create an enfleurage with the blooms by placing them on a solid fat until the scent is soaked into the fat. The resulting pommade can be used as is or can be further extracted with alcohol for an absolute de pommade that is very true to the smell of the frangipani blossom.
Tiare, the Queen of Polynesian flowers, is a striking, white, star-shaped flower that is actually a gardenia. It grows on a small shrub in the family Rubiaceae, a large family that also contains coffee. The scent of tiare flowers is described as reminiscent of both gardenia and tuberose, green with just a hint of apple blossom. This is a gentle flower, exhibiting affection, welcome, and the ceremonies of the islands. It is native to Tahiti and is symbolic of that lovely island. In the language of flowers, a tiare bloom is placed behind the left ear of a person who is happily in love, behind the right ear it means the person is available and if placed on the nape of the neck it beckons one to follow. Polynesians have been known to use these flowers to cure migraines, mosquito bites, earaches or just float them in a bowl of water to scent the home.
The Tiare Apetahi blossom is a variety that has dagger-shaped leaves and grows high in the mountains of Raiatea Island between Bora Bora and Tahiti. There is a legend about a beautiful woman who lived on the island and married a fisherman. Together they had a daughter name Tiaitau who grew up to meet the king and become his lover. When the king went to war she was so sorrowful she cut off her hand and buried it in the soil of the mountain to be a symbol of her love. The delicate, five-fingered flower that grew in that soil is reminiscent of a woman’s hand. An alternative version has a broken-hearted woman dying on the mountain after cutting off her hand in sorrow. The Tiare Apetahi will not grow anywhere else but on the rocky soil of the Temehani Plateau on the island.
Tiare is used in the production of monoi where the flowers are extracted using coconut oil to produce a lovely scented oil. The production of monoi is strictly formulated and is a form of enfleurage. The flowers are picked when they are still unopened and are quickly placed in refined coconut oil. The flowers are left for 15 days until the characteristic scent is present. A minimum of 15 tiare flowers must be used for each liter of coconut oil to maintain the high quality. For use in perfumery an absolute is produced that is very rare and very expensive, requiring thousands of flowers per kilo and is not generally available. The absolute does not smell like the more familiar Monoi but is woody and green with the floral aspect apparent when skillfully blended.
The perfect tropical accents for these floral aromas are mango and coconut – fruity and buttery with slight touch of nuttiness. Coconuts are hardy trees that are widespread in the tropics, growing easily on sandy shorelines. Because the fruit can float for long distances and still germinate it is widespread both from natural means and by humankind. The coconut is one of the most extensively used and grown nuts in the world and is an important crop in many tropical countries. It is also valuable as an ornamental and the source of coco frio – a refreshing drink made from the liquid in green coconuts. The three holes at the base of the shell resemble a grinning or grimacing face and is the origin of the name – coco meaning grin or grimace. The scent of coconut in perfumes is generally obtained through fragrance chemicals but the artisan perfumer will often tincture coconut in pure alcohol to obtain a lovely accent note for perfumes. The absolute exists but is quite rare and the odor is not strong but has value in mellowing and sweetening other notes such as vanilla. The smell is described as sweet, buttery, nutty and fatty. Beaches, sunshine, tropical breezes, a cool drink and a coconut tree to sit under – paradise!
For the perfumer requiring only botanical materials, the scent of mango fruit must be created as a doppelganger. In perfumery, a doppelganger is a blend of materials that mimics a scent that is otherwise unobtainable. For mango, a perfumer may use citruses with florals and a touch of green to produce a fruity, sweet aroma reminiscent of ripe mangos. There is, actually, an absolute made from mango leaves that is deeply green in scent with a subtle undertone of the fruit. Mangos themselves exhibit a variety of shapes, colors, aromas and flavors and may range from citrusy and sharp to mellow with coconut undertones. Some are quite floral and may provide a touch of jasmine for your palate. At the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, Florida, the Mango Festival occurs every summer to celebrate this versatile and lovely fruit that is grown throughout the world. The mango tasting is the high point of the festival where people can taste mangos large and small from around the world and decide whether they like their mango a bit tart and citrusy or sweet and rich like honey with a bit of coconut.
–Elise Pearlstine, Contributor
Art Direction Michelyn Camen, Editor-In-Chief
For our draw:
From Euro Parfums 100ml Montale Paris Intense Tiare available at MiN New York
From Ormonde Jayne The Travel Purse Spray Collection with 4 x10ml of Frangipani
Courtesy of Fragrance & Arts 50 ml of Manguier Metisse Huitieme Art
From our friends at L'Artisan Parfumeur 50 ml Batucuda
Courtesy of Sarah Horowitz Thran of Sarah Horowitz Parfums the new 1.7 0z EDP of Perfect Coconut Milk
Thanks to En Voyage Perfumes by Shelley Waddington 1 oz of Nectar des Isles composed by Juan Perez
From Honoré des Prés 100% eco cert organic I Love Coconut by Olivia Giacobetti available at Ron Robinson.com
Courtesty of Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume 6 ml travel atomizer All Natural Lei Flower EDP available at Beauty Habit
Courtesy of our Author and Natural Perfumer for BellyFlowers 10 ml EDT Tea Olive
Thanks to Natural Perfumer JoAnne Bassett 6 ml refillabale Island Memories
Thanks to Francesca Brice of Pacific Perfumes Love the Mango from the Original range which uses both man made and natural essential oils
Thanks to Liz Cook of One Seed Co. 5ml of All Natural Frangipani
For our draw please leave a detailed comment with something interesting that you have learned from this article about tropical flowers and fruits in perfumery, and your choices of fragrances (WITH AT LEAST ONE NOTE NOT MENTIONED IN THIS PIECE) that you would like to win in this random draw (PLEASE INCLUDE AT LEAST ONE NATURAL PERFUMER'S GUILD PERFUME IN YOUR CHOICE these folks sponsor these ingredients draws every month). Draw closes July 11, 2012
We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS option…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume