a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR

Aromatic Sources for Perfumes


Plants have been used for thousands of years to product essential oils and aroma compounds. Plants are one of the largest sources for the production of perfume. Many parts of a plant can be used for this process including the leaf, flower and stems.

  • Bark: Most commonly used barks are cinnamon and cascarilla. The oil in sassafras root bark is used either directly or purified for its main element safrole, which is used in the synthesis of other fragrant compounds.
  • Flowers: Rose, jasmine, plumeria, mimosa, tuberose, narcissus, scented geranium, cassie, ambrette, citrus and ylang-ylang blossoms and unopened clove buds. Orchids are not commercially used for the production of essential oils, except in the case of vanilla, an orchid, which must be pollinated to produce seed pods before use in perfumery.
  • Fruits: Apples, strawberries and cherries cannot be extracted and are usually produced synthetically. Other fruits include litsea cubeba, vanilla, juniper berry, oranges, lemons and limes. Grapefruit rind can be used for aromatics but commercial grapefruit aromatics are usually synthetically produced because natural aromatics contain sulfur and it is quite unpleasant to smell.
  • Leaves and Twigs: Lavender leaf, patchouli, sage, violets, rosemary and citrus leaves. Hay and tomato leaves can be used to add a “green” smell to perfume.
  • Resins: Labdanum, frankincense, olibanum, myrrh, Peru balsam, gum benzoin. Pine and fir resins are a valued source of terpenes used in the organic synthesis of many other synthetics or naturally occurring aromatic compounds. Amber and copal in perfumery are derived from fossilized resins from ancient conifers.
  • Roots, rhizomes and bulbs: Iris rhizomes, vetiver roots and other rhizomes of the ginger family.
  • Seeds: Tonka bean, carrot seed, coriander, caraway, cocoa, nutmeg, mace, cardamom and anise.
  • Woods: Sandalwood, rosewood, agarwood, birch, cedar, juniper and pine.


  • Ambergris: Lumps of oxidized fatty compounds, secreted and expelled by sperm whales.
  • Castoreum: The odorous sacs of the North American beaver.
  • Civet or Civet Musk: From the odorous sacs of the civets, animals related to the mongoose.
  • Hyraceum: A petrified excrement of the Rock Hyrax.
  • Honeycomb: From the honeycomb of the honeybee.
  • Deer Musk: From the musk sacs from the Asian musk deer but has now been replaced by a synthetic sometimes known as “white musk”.


  • Lichens: Oakmoss and treemoss thalli.
  • Seaweed: Natural seaweed fragrances are rarely used due to their high cost.

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This entry was posted on November 15, 2011 by in Education.

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