Honeysuckle

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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 invasive and not as gentle as you may look, but your fragrance is so sweet and your flower so unique that many gardeners forgive your possessive soul.

Close-up of Cluster of orange honeysuckle

There are almost two hundred species of honeysuckles, and more than half of them are native from China. The others are indigenous to the temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. In French, the evergreen plant is called chèvrefeuille, meaning “goat leave” as this bine (and not vine) climbs trees as easily as a goat climbs a steep mountain. Most flowers are arranged in clusters, and so are the fruits, red or black berries that are mildly toxic for most species of honeysuckles. The flowers are very fragrant, and the strongest odor is found to be emitted in the middle of the night.

Lonicera Japonica or Japanese honeysuckle in my neighbor’s garden. The plant produces white and pale-yellow flowers. The scent is wonderful.

In Chinese traditional medicine honeysuckle, called JinYinHua (“gold & silver flower,”  aka Lonicera Japonica, or Japanese honeysuckle), being the most common species of this plant in East Asia), has sweet and cold properties associated to lungs, stomach and large intestine meridians. Throat candies in China are all containing the essence of the flowers. The beneficial properties of this plant are countless thanks to a large variety of trace elements and enzymes that can even eliminate poison and toxins, defy aging, fight cancer and help weight loss. Honeysuckle Jelly is a yummy treat for children who can help their parents collect the fragrant flowers from the woodbine. Follow this link to watch a cute video recipe of this delicious jelly.

A pot of honeysuckle jelly. Yummy!

True essential oil or absolute of honeysuckle is hardly available. Some macerated oils of honeysuckle are sold online and can be used as massage oils or as an oily perfume base perhaps. Fragrance oil of honeysuckle does not contain any extract of the plant but a blend of natural and synthetic aromatic compounds that imitate the scent of the flower. Such fragrance oil is widely available and can be used as a floral note in perfumes, soaps, candles, etc. A headspace analysis of the scent of honeysuckle revealed no less than hundred and fifty aromatic compounds in its composition, among which linalool, cis-jasmone, cis-jasmine lactone, α-farnesene and methyl jasmonate. Perfumers will use such data to recreate the wonderful scent with these molecules. Another common way to create the note is to use mimosa and jasmine absolutes as a base, and decorate them with various floral compounds.

Many fragrances report a honeysuckle note in their heart but this note is often difficult to distinguish from the other florals in the composition. I will focus my picks of the week on soliflores or fragrances where the note is clearly recognizable.

Maybe the ultimate honeysuckle fragrance to start with: Le Chèvrefeuille by Annick Goutal. What a romantic perfume my friends! This fragrance was composed by Camille Goutal, Annick’s daughter, and successor, with the complicity of Isabelle Doyen, the master perfumer of the house. The juice transports us to the South of France where the Goutals used to spend their holidays. A lemon note offers a sparkling opening and suits perfectly, as some species of honeysuckles also have a citrusy odor. I highly recommend this fragrance from Spring to Summer, to make your happy days even more unforgettable.

I have a profound respect for the house of Creed, their amazing history and the continuous innovation and quality of their fragrances for six generations. Chevrefeuille by Creed was created already in 1982 by Oliver Creed, and the perfume is still on sales today. Honeysuckle seems to have marked the olfactive and emotional memory of great perfumers since their early childhood, as for the Goutals. Oliver spent his holidays in Normandie where the plant is commonly found. He later recreated this scent with rather strong green notes in comparison with the intensity of the florals, which might surprise or even displease some of you. I think that this is a rather masculine honeysuckle in some standards, but anyhow, I am still not convinced that perfumes have a gender. I love the ambergris note in the base of this elegant juice. The performance is acceptable even if a midday re-spray will be needed.

Madison Soiree by Bond no.9

Bond no.9 is a high-end New York perfume house with many outstanding fragrances, as much for their scent than for their price. Madison Soiree is a very feminine juice where the honeysuckle note is distinguishable beside jasmine and gardenia. I love the typical Bond opening, very ozonic and sparkling, with a slow fading on superb floral notes, then on a surprising base of oakmoss which is light enough to maintain the harmony of the blend. Trying it once might follow by increasing your yearly budget for fine perfumes.

I have tried a large part of Demeter‘s impressively wide collection of fragrances and was enthusiastic about some of them and less about others. I frankly do not have a strong remembrance about Honeysuckle from this house, other than the fact that this is a soliflore that smells pretty much like honeysuckle. Now, looking at the reviews, I found a lot of positive feedback about it. This is a light, sweet and natural scent that will be perfect for honeysuckle lovers at this very moment of the year.

I wish you a beautiful and fragrant week, and the same persistence and courage as honeysuckle, relentlessly climbing to reach the sky.

Cheers my friends,

Laurent

 

 

 

 

 

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