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The raw materials of plant origin


The raw materials of plant origin used in the composition of perfumes come from all over the world and are selected for their quality and originality.

Flowers are the components with which today's general public is most familiar. Depending on the species, various parts are used: petals, flower or leaf buds, roots (iris), leaves (geranium, violet), stems or stalks.
 Although cultivated internationally, some flowers are still picked in the fields around Grasse and used in the local perfume industry.

The main flowers are :
  • Rose, picked only at dawn when the perfume is strongest. The rose most commonly used in perfume making is the famous rosa centifolia or May rose, which is cultivated around Grasse and also in Turkey, Bulgaria and Morocco.
  • Jasmine, the white flower most used many perfumes, helped establish Grasse's reputation for perfumes and today is also imported from Spain, North Africa and India.
  • Tuberose, native to Mexico, was introduced to Grasse during the 17th century and is also common in India.
  • Orange blossom, a symbol of virginity, is cultivated in Provence, Italy and Egypt. When distilled it produces an essence called neroli and the water from distillation is the popular orange blossom water.
  • Lavender, fields of which cover the plateau of Haute Provence, is now used mainly in masculine fragrances.
  • Mimosa, which epitomizes the Grasse region during the end of winter, is a petal-less flower and its little yellow florets are composed entirely of stamens.
  • Ylang-Ylang is a voluptuous flower produced by gnarled trees commonly found in islands in the Indian Ocean: the Comoros archipelago, Mauritius, Réunion and Madagascar.
Aromatic herbs are used as much in perfume making as in cuisine. Thyme, rosemary, mint and basil are cultivated not only around the Mediterranean (France, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco) but also in India and Madagascar.

Fruits and their peels add a refreshing citrus note or an exotic touch :
  • Lemon from Italy, California and the Ivory Coast.
  • Bergamot from Calabria in Italy, the Ivory Coast and Spain.
  • Orange, mainly produced in California but also in Spain.
  • Mandarin, native to China where they were traditionally given as gifts to Mandarins, is now harvested around the Mediterranean, especially in Italy.
  • Grapefruit, native to Israel and the United States.
  • Vanilla, native to Mexico and now cultivated around the Indian Ocean.
Spices and seeds is another category of raw materials also shared with gastronomy:
  • Tonka beans from Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.
  • Coriander cultivated and distilled in Russia, Hungary and North Africa.
  • Badian from China.
  • Cumin, native to the Mediterranean Basin and India.
  • Ambrette from India and the West Indies.
  • Cardamom harvested in India, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Central America.
  • Cloves produced in Madagascar, the Philippines, Indonesia and Tanzania.
  • Fenugreek with its smell reminiscent of walnut and celery.
  • Nutmeg harvested from the evergreen nutmeg tree.
  • Pepper, used mainly for masculine compositions.
Roots are prized raw materials :
  • Vetyver from the island of Java.
  • Iris, of which Italy is the best known producer although it is also grown in Greece, India and Morocco.
  • Ginger, cultivated in India, Japan, China and West Africa.
Leaves are sometimes more useful to perfume making than flowers :
  • Patchouli, emblematic of the 1970’s, is cultivated mainly in Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • Petitgrain extracted from the leaves of the bitter orange in Italy.
  • Geranium from South Africa, Egypt and China.
  • Violet from the hills of Vence; the leaves give a very green floral essence.
  • Myrtle, native to the Mediterranean region.
Woods, barks and mosses are another important category of plant ingredients :
  • Sandalwood, native to India and found around Mysore and in Timor, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
  • Cedar from Kenya and the Moroccan Atlas mountains.
  • Cinnamon bark harvested in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India and Vietnam.
  • Birch bark from Russia and Northern Europe.
  • Lignum vitae from plantations in South America (Argentina, Paraguay) and the West Indies.
  • Oak moss from the forests of the Massif Central in France, Morocco and Spain.
Resins and gums, both of which are secreted by plants or trees :
  • Galbanum from Iran and Afghanistan
  • Benzoin produced in Laos, China and Vietnam.
  • Opoponax from Ethiopia;
  • Myrrh, one of the Three Kings' gifts, a gum drawn from spiny shrubs found in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Labdanum from rockrose leaves.
  • Tolu balsam from South America.
  • Frankincense from a wild shrub in southern Arabia and Somalia.
 
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