Friday, May 21, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Sweet Peas

If its Friday it must be time for a new contribution to Perfume Illuminated! Today we venture into one of the favorite flowers of the Victorian era, the enchanting Sweet Pea.

Native to the southern portion of Italy and Crete these festive flowers add beauty and charm to a garden while providing fabulous fragrant bouquets for the home. Botanically known as Lathyrus latifolia or Lathyrus odoratus these pretties are available in a wealth of cool toned hues.


As a natural botanical perfumer I have not had the pleasure to experience a Sweet Pea essence. I have read that the most fragrant of all Sweet Peas comes from the line created by the horticulturist Henry Eckford. A tincture of these may prove well worth the trouble, for these like violets, would probably need to be removed and added daily. Although I suspect Sweet Peas would not give up their fragrant treasures.

Steffen Arctander mentions that an essence could be obtained by using the enfleurage method or a solvent extraction.1 However, the book "Flower Oils and Flavour Compounds in Perfumery" mentions that steam distillation, enfleurage and maceration yielded poor results2. Arctander sites the fragrance as containing notes of freesia, certain types of wild roses, orange blossom and hyacinth with balsamic, honey and mild green notes.4 Green notes again, a reoccurring theme here at Perfume Illuminated Project.

A Natural Sweet Pea perfume composition

Create a base accord with:
Tolu Balsam

The main heart note in a Sweet Pea perfume is Orange Blossom2 supported with:
Musk Ambrette

and for the shimmering top notes:
Petitgrain bigrade
and a few drops of a fresh a Green Accord

FLAVOR: Beth Schreibman Gehring
Please continue reading about Sweet Peas at the Windesphere Witch blog

[1] [4]Steffan Arctanders (1994) Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
[2][3] Danute Pajaujis Anonis (1993) Flower Oils and Flavour Compounds in Perfumery

Images: Opening Painting: Take the Fair Face of Woman by Sophie Anderson, antique seed packet of Sweet Peas and old engravings cleaned up and put on parchment.

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