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Freesia Perfume Newsletter

There are a number of flowers possessing enchanting perfumes that have not been extracted or distilled on a commercial scale. Sometimes there is the difficulty of growing enough flowers to produce a reasonable quantity of essence(as it sometimes takes hundreds if not thousands of kilos of flowersFressia to produce 1 kilo of essential oil and/or absolute), sometimes the cost of the growing and harvesting of the flowers is prohibitive for making the absolute or essential oil, sometimes the distillation or extract technique employed does not capture the beauty of the flowers aroma. These are but a few of the reasons why the essence of a flower may not be offered in its pure form.

In such cases the perfumer then needs to study the aroma of the flower itself and see if there are different combinations of other co2 extracts, absolutes, natural isolates and essential oils that might be used to capture some of the olfactory qualities of the flower one is trying to make an "aromatic portrait" of. It is important to remember that such interpretations are themselves dependent on how the perfumer perceives the fragrant properties of the flower as it exhales its delightful perfume upon the air. And it is equally important to remember that a flower of a particular genus and species may exhibit different olfactory qualities depending on where it is grown, the variety of that species, the particular climatic and soil conditions it grows in etc.

It is with these considerations in mind that I decided to try to make a nice Freesia Perfume which I confess is based almost entirely on what others have written of the fragrance. I have myself grown freesias and tended freesias in other gardens in which I have worked but for some reason or other the perfume which has been described in literature regarding them was only faintly present. Sometimes what happens is that for the sake of the size, color and form of a flower, a good deal of hybridization takes place at the sacrafice of the fragrance of the flower, and I suspect this may have happened with freesias I have known.

Freesia Perfume Recipe
1 1/2 ounces Lemon Essence eo
3 ounces White Verbena eo(white verbena eo has a delicate citrus note with a very high percentage of linalool giving it a nice floral-woody, herbaceous aroma)
1 1/2 White Champa Flower CO2
1/2 ounce of Rosa damascena absolute
1/ 8 ounce Styrax eo
1/16th ounce of Star Anise eo
1 ounce Ylang extra eo
1/4 ounce Peppermint abs

This perfume was created over 9 months ago. Only in the last month have the components begin to meld together in a balanced and harmonius manner capturing something of the aroma I imagined in the beginning. Aging of any blend is true necessity for almost any perfume composition. It often takes 6 months for a composition to show its olfactory qualities.

In reviewing the technical literature on freesia scent one finds such interesting abstracts as the following:

"Abstract: The composition of volatile compounds emitted from flowers of nine Freesia species and 16 cultivars was investigated by headspace adsorption/gas chromatography (HA/GC). Yellow-flowered cultivars such as 'Gold Flame', 'Rijnveld's Golden Yellow' and 'Aladdin' emitted volatile compounds abundantly, while 'Rose Marie', 'Blue Heaven' and 'Volcano' showed hardly any emission. A total of 16 volatile compounds were identified. Linalool, which accounted for at least one third of the total peak area, was the dominant volatile compound common to the species and cultivars other than F. caryophyllacea, F. refracta and 'Evita'. Freesia species and cultivars were separated into three groups based on the composition of these volatile compounds. In Group I linalool was the dominant volatile compound. This group was further separated into three subgroups; In Subgroup I-i, which included three species (F. alba, F. corymbosa and F. elimensis), and six cultivars, fragrance was dominated by only linalool. In Subgroup I-ii, which included two species (F. fergusoniae and F. leichtlinii) and five cultivars, flowers had sweet fragrance comprised mainly of linalool and some other related monoterpenoids. In Subgroup I-iii, which included two cultivars, fragrance was characterized by limonene, ocimene and alpha-terpinolene, as well as linalool. In Group II, fragrance was dominated by linalool, 2-phenylethyl acetate and benzyl alcohol, and this group included F. occidentalis and 'Rose Marie'. In Group III, which included F. caryophyllacea and 'Evita', fragrance was dominated by terpinolene. 'Gold Flame', F. sparrmannii and F. refracta were outgroups having a characteristic scent."

Isolates in Freesia:

linalool -- was found as a major component of all freesia varieties. The natural isolate linalool displays a light and refreshing, floral-woody odor with a faintly citrusy note
Found in percentages of over 1% -thyme absolute, petitgrain eo, osmanthus abs, orangeflower abs, neroli eo, mandarin eo, lavender eo, lavindin eo, ho wood, ho leaf eo, white champa leaf eo, rosewoodeo

ocimene-Tropical, green, terpy and woody with vegetable nuances
Found in percentages of over 1% lavindin abrialis, lavender eo, lemon verbena eo, myrtle lemon scented, tagetes oil

limonene-Fresh, light and sweet citrusy
Found in percentages of over 1% grapefruit eo, lemon eo, lime eo, orange eo

alpha terpineol-Delicately floral and sweet of lilac type
Found in percentages of over 1% cardamom co2, cla sage eo, coriander seed eo, kewda ruh, lavindin eo, lavender eo, lime co2, mandarin eo, neroli bigarade, orange flower water absolute

Phenylethyl acetate - sweet, fruity, like honey
Found in percentages of over 1% in champaca abs, cananga eo, jasmin sambac abs

benyl alcohol-Sweet and fruity
Found in percentages of over 1% ylang eo, rosa centifolia abs, narcissus abs, clove leaf eo, champaca abs, cananga eo

Other short monographs offers these insights on Freesia:

" Freesia refracta (Iridaceae) The genus Freesia originates in southern Africa. Some botanists believe it consists of nearly twenty species, other botanists consider them all to be varieties of just one species, F. refracta. The wild type has white or yellow funnel-shaped flowers, but a multitude of sorts have been developed by cultivating. Freesia is renowned for its powerful and diffusive scent, which, however, is less appreciated by some people. Picked flowers in a vase make themselves conspicuous even in a large room.

Mookherjee et al. have demonstrated that the headspace of living and picked flowers of freesia differs considerably. Linalool represents 80-90 % in both, but dihydro-beta-ionone, beta-ionone and its derivatives 4-oxo-beta-ionone and 4-oxo-beta-ionol present in the live flowers are almost absent in the picked flowers. On the other hand, pyrazines were only detected from the picked flowers [8]. Linalool in freesia is exclusively the R-(-)-enantiomer, which has an olfactory detection threshold about ten times lower than the S-(+)-enantiomer [4]."
Bo Jensen, Essential Oils, Freesia

"The subject of the difference between the aromatic constituents of the living flower as compared with the harvested flower as first detailed in the work of Dr. Braja Mookherjee of IFF(referred to above) is a very fascinating one and those interested in the subject may wish to refer to the following internet article giving details of some of his work."
Mookherjee, The Chemistry of Flowers

In the end one begins to realize that unless they have access to a highly sophisticated gc analysis as well as all the isolates that comprise the major, minor and trace components of a particular flower, that one can only do their best to select the materials that they have and enjoy the process of perfume creation using their imagination and sense of smell to create the aromatic aura of what they imagine the essence radiating from the flower to be.

One may also find valuable allusions to the aroma of the flower in literature. There is a mood which such scents evoke which is a valuable aid in guiding one in their perfume creations.

Freesia in Literature

In this high sanctuary where I wait
Walled round with silence and clean empty air,
Earth's choicest incense floods the altar bare:
Keen scent of freesias, summer's distillate
From far-off meadows drying in the sun,
Windborn reminds of the distant sea,
Moist earthy odors in the mist set free--
The mountain winds are blending these in one.
Silence and fragrance, solitude and space,
Heal the heart's weariness; high priestesses
Beauty and Peace offer their ministries,
Slow twilight comes; beyond the mountain's face
The red sun sinks; the eternal stars are near,
And life's great verities are close and clear.
--from Fukien Christian University: a historical sketch
by Roderick Scott

The happiness of that afternoon was already fixed in her mind, and always would the scent of freesia recall it to her mental sight, for among the smells of the roses and violets and lilies and wall-flowers the smell of the freesa penetrated, as a melody stands out from its accompaniement, and gave her the most pleasure.
--from The Way Things Happen
by Hugh De Sélincourt

The breeze bears it in waves of perfume - the scent of roses and freesia flowers ; and everywhere and in everything is the refrain of that wonderful chant, the reflex of that mystic joy...And so I brood, lapping myself in the warm glorius peace.
--from The Scourge-Stick
by Mrs. Campbell Praed

To one man forever afterwards the scent of freesias recalled that afternoon; the exquisite sweetness of that lovely face; the trailing softness of her widow's gown..
--from The Mistress of Shenstone
by Florence Louisa Barclay

I opened the garden gate, pulling at the string that lifted the latch inside, and a great wave of the scent of wallflower and freesias poured over me, warm from their day-long sunning underneath the southern wall, and intoxicatingly sweet...
--from Up and down
by Edward Frederic Benson

The heavy scent of freesias and heliotrope filled the air, and an immense stone-pine threw a shadow over the garden like a wide-spread umbrella.
--from By the waters of Sicily
by Norma Lorimer

The window was half open to the first mild day of March; beside it stood a bowl of growing daffodils, and a pot of freesias that' scented the room. Outside a robin was singing, the murmur of the river came up through the black buds of of the ash-trees, and in the distance a sheep-dog could be heard barking on the fells. So quiet it was--the spring sunshine--and so sweet.
--from The writings of Mrs. Humphry Ward, Volume 16
by Mrs. Humphry Ward

Not far off are large-flowered, creamy white freesias, neatly staked, with that delicate, fragrant scent rising from them that recalls warm countries and sunshine.
--from In a college garden
by Frances Garnet Wolseley Wolseley (Viscountess)

A maid came in, and moved about noiselessly setting chairs and rugs in order. Another soft light was lighted and the little square table set before the fire. The cool fresh air drifted in at the half-open window, and sent a delicate breath, from Alice's great bowl of freesia lilies, through the peaceful room. The fire snapped smartly about a fresh log, and Alice's great tortoise-shell cat came to make a majestic spring into her lap.
--from The Beloved Woman
by Kathleen Norris

After going through the technical literature and literary references and remembering the color and form of the freesias I had grown and tended I decided that I would create a perfume that contained delicate, clear fresh, sweet floral-herbaceous-fruity notes. For this purpose I drew upon only essential oils, co2 extracts and absolutes as I currently do not have any natural isolates to work with(although I feel that natural isolates might prove extremely useful in such creations) The feeling I hoped to capture was one of sweet innocence, hope, purity and quiet exhulatation of the joy of simple living.