The Coolest Herb

Mint. In the Antiquity, your freshening smell was appreciated in funerals for covering the smell of decay and to prepare the kykeon, a psychoactive beverage drunk at secret religious rites, the Eleusinian Mysteries. In the same mythology, Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Queen of the Underworld, metamorphosed you, beautiful naiad Minthe, into a bush…

Geranium or Pelargonium?

Crane, Heron, and Stork. Three large aquatic birds with long legs, a feathery crest, and an impressive beak. The resemblance of the seed pods to the bird is what made the naturalists and biologists name the family Geraniaceae and divide them into three genera: Geraniums (geranós:  crane in Greek), Erodiums (erodiós:  heron in Greek) and Pelargoniums (pelargós: stork in Greek). These…

Piper Nigrum

Piper Nigrum or Black Pepper is native to the South-Western Province of Kerala in India, where it grows wild. The fruits of this flowering vine have been appreciated or even venerated by humans for millenniums. So much that already in the antiquity, the Greeks and the Romans imported black pepper from Egyptian merchants for a fortune….

Ambergris

Ambergris. Like a bottle at sea, you carry a fragrant message to the World. Born in the entrails of a cachalot, you started your journey within the most noisome wastes of the animal. Your waxy nature allows you to float and your odyssey can last for decades before you eventually wash up on shore. Lucky are…

Her Majesty Jasmine

Her Majesty Jasmine. The perfumer Edmond Roudnitska said once that “if Rose is the queen of the flowers, Jasmine is the queen of the fragrances.” Thanks to you, Grasse, in South of France, metamorphosed from a filthy and stinky leather tanning town to the world’s  capital of perfume. The Moors, who discovered you in South…

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle. What a funny name for a funny bine. Day after day, you spiral and climb around your vegetal neighbors to get the best spot under the sun. Butterflies and hummingbirds are crazy about your nectar, and the children have also learned how to taste your honey by pulling your pistil from the bottom. You are classified as…

Lily of the Valley

 Lily of the Valley. There is always a wild side to an innocent face, and your cute white bells hide a poisonous nature. You are celebrated since the antiquity where you symbolized Mary’s tears and were in the lyrics of the Song of Songs of Salomon. In the language of the flowers, you are the symbol…

Camphor Tree

Camphor Tree. Cousin of cinnamon and laurel, you are a sacred tree in the Far East. Your hardwood makes the most precious trunks,  protecting their content against all sort of pests. Your white crystallized blood, called camphor, was once upon a time a very precious substance. Without you, battlefields would have been covered with smoke, billiard…

Glorious Lilac

Glorious Lilac. Your natural bluish color is the root of your name, as the Arabic for it is lilak. Your hollow branches, similar to a reed, reminded the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus of the legend of the Satyr Pan chasing the nymph Syrinx who transformed herself into a hollow reed. Your Latin name, derived from Syrinx, is…

Spring and Summer Reading

Reading books in the shadow of flowering trees; what a beautiful moment of life! I have been inspired by many books on perfumery since I started Scent & Flavor and would like to share with you this short review. I hope that some of these books will find a space on your bookshelf or your Kindle…