Friday, May 28, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Magnolia

Perfume gets illuminated with the splendor of the Magnolias as our May flower contribution today. Each morning after I drop my daughter off at school and drive back to our little house in the woods I observe whats happening in the plant world. I'm not a "news" person, especially in the morning. I much prefer to take in the intelligence of nature at the start of my day. I highly recommend it.

For the last month I have been keenly monitoring the local Magnolias. At the start of May I began to see the milky white buds appear in the trees. This week I've noticed that the flowers have fully opened.

The specific Magnolias I am referring to are Magnolia grandiflora native to south eastern United States. This evergreen has gorgeous, large saucer like flowers with dark green waxy leaves. The majority of the trees here in the Los Angeles area were planted early on when the cities were for being planned. Here in the San Fernando Valley Magnolia is not only a flower that blooms in May but also the name of a Street and a 1999 film by Paul Anderson.

As a species Magnolias are part of an ancient plant civilization dating back ninety five million years ago. Pollinated by beetles, instead of bees, the flowers have evolved to withstand the constant crawling of insects.1


The botanical perfume artist has a treasure chest of Magnolias to choose from for their artistic creations.

Golden Champa or Champaca, Michelia champaca, from India is an absolute derived from the flower. The odor is intoxicating, aligned with other heady florals such as ylang ylang and orange blossom. Fruit and spice notes are weaved in with the heady sweet floral aspect.

Other essences termed Magnolia are Magnolia fargesii from China available as a C02, a Michelia champaca Attar from India traditionally hydrodistilled in May and Michelia alba often termed as White, an essential oil from the leaves or a Co2 of the flowers.

All of these share a narcotic, sweet, fruity floral profile to a certain extent although Michelia alba is tempered with green notes.

When blending with the above mentioned essences mindfulness is required, a little goes a long way. Golden champaca is so lovely on it's own no other fragrance materials need be combined with it as a beautiful single note perfume. However, if you would like to create a more complex fragrance consider adding other oils from the east to create a fragrance for Buddha, since this is considered his flower. Vetiver and sandalwood are excellent choices for a base highlighted with citrus, black pepper and a touch of clove for you top notes.


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