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The Complete Guide To Floral Scents

The Complete Guide To Floral Scents

Flower Scent Basics

Floral scent or flower scent is composed of all the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or aroma compounds, emitted by floral tissue (e.g. flower petals). Floral scent is also referred to as aroma, fragrance, floral odour or perfume. 

The alluring chemical cocktails we smell in the air are a mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and low-molecular-weight lipophilic (oil- and fat-soluble) liquids. VOCs include alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, and other miscellaneous hydrocarbons. More than 1,700 VOCs have been identified from 90 different plant families.

For an individual flower, the cocktail can comprise over 100 different compounds. For example, the intoxicating flowers of the Lonicera japonica, a species of honeysuckle, have over 150 volatile compounds.

Natures Allure

In nature because flowers cannot move about in order to spread their seeds, plants and flowers use scent to attract birds and insects to them in order to pollinate. As each bird, bee or insect lands on a flower it picks up pollen and, when it lands on the next flower, it leaves some behind while taking away new pollen. 

A plant’s production of attractants is an energy-intensive process. To balance the use of resources, some plants only produce scent chemicals during specific times of day. Jasmine only produces its scent during the evening and nighttime hours when its own dedicated pollinators (moths) are active. This is why the fragrance carried by a summer breeze changes as the afternoon moves from evening to night.

Whether it’s attracting insects to a pollen-rich stamen or producing seed-laden fruit for birds to eat, plants and flowers rely on the rest of nature to help them procreate. For the majority of flowers and plants, it is their scent that helps them to achieve this and every fragrance is attuned to the right creature that the flower requires.

Scent is also used as a deterrent to stop herbivores from eating the plant. By producing a foul or bitter scent, the flower can put off potential predators and warn creatures that they don’t taste very nice. This has no effect on insects however as they are attracted to less appealing aromas.

How we smell floral aromas

Our ability to enjoy scents relies on our own personal chemoreception sensors: our noses. The nose contains olfactory receptors that can bind to the odorant molecules entering the nose. Binding changes the overall shape of the molecule, setting off a series of reactions that informs your brain as to what you are smelling. Over 390 olfactory receptors have been identified, which can detect thousands of different odorant chemicals, many at concentrations as low as 1 part per 30 billion.

Floral scents are one of the most popular smells that people like to enjoy, and it has been discovered that certain fragrances can have an effect on our emotions and wellbeing. 

Top 5 Atmospheric Scents

1. Chrysanthemums

There are many types of chrysanthemums; for example, there are those that feature blooms on every stem and there are those that have spidery blooms, packed with skinny petals.

The smell of these wonderful flowers is earthy and herby – rather than the sweet aromas typically associated with bouquets. As well as exuding an elegance, chrysanthemums can also be used to repel insects.


2. Casablanca Lilies

Big and extravagant, Casablanca lilies boast long, thin stems featuring as many as five considerably-sized blooms.

White and pure, these blooms give off a sweet odor which will easily fill a small room.

An aroma that is persistent and lingers, many find it incredibly enchanting.

Often favored by the florists for weddings, these lilies are relatively easy to grow in any garden soil, just need to remember the basics: they like their heads in the sun and feet in the shade.


3. Gardenia

Gardenia is one of the most widely recognized fragrances in the garden world, with heavy scent and lovely white flowers.

Can be grown in your garden or even indoors. The flowers were named after Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a Scottish-born American naturalist.

There are currently around 140 varieties of gardenia.

Interesting fact: In France, gardenias are the flower traditionally worn by men as boutonnière when in evening dress.

4. Garden Phlox

A showstopping flower with sweet fragrance which is most apparent on warm, sunny days. Grows in clusters of candy-colored blooms.

Phlox is one of the most popular choices for many gardeners, thanks to the fact that it is long blooming, hardy and long-lived, easy of culture, often fragrant and never need staking.


5. Jasmine

The jasmine flowers themselves are delicate and quite feminine, with a very distinctive smell and jasmine is often described as the King of Essences.

There are currently around 200 different species of jasmine, native to tropical and warm regions. Jasmine is one of the most popular flowers used for tea, thanks to its flavor and beautiful smell.

Top 5 Therapeutic Scents

1. Clary Sage

Clary sage originates from the Latin “clarus”, meaning “clear.” We like to think of clary sage as “clearing” away the dark clouds of our mood, as it’s traditionally been known for its uplifting and euphoric actions.


2. Lavender

The herby, floral scent of lavender is widely used to help relax both the mind and body. Research carried out on students found that it could help treat sleep disorders such as insomnia, as well as depression. What’s more, lavender essential oil has been shown to have a de-stressing effect.

3. Orange

Sourced from the rind of this zesty fruit, orange and sweet orange essential oils have been linked to stress relief. A Brazilian study revealed that people who inhaled sweet orange oil reported improved anxiety symptoms.

4. Rosemary

Commonly used in the kitchen, rosemary is a herb recognised for its strong woody scent. The aroma of rosemary essential oil can help soothe emotional and mental strain by decreasing the hormone that causes stress symptoms.

5. Peppermint

In need of a natural morning pick-me-up that doesn’t involve caffeine or a cockerel? This spicy scent is used to help to wake up your mind, focus your senses, and improve your memory.

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