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Tuberose: The White Flower of Seduction

By Amy Derungs

January 4, 2021


Native to South America, tuberose belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. The strong fragrance of the tuberose has been distilled for use in perfumery since the 17th century. That was when the flower was first transported to Europe. French Queen Marie Antoinette used a perfume called Sillage de la Reine. It contained tuberose, orange blossom, sandalwood, jasmine, iris and cedar. Tuberose remains a popular floral note for perfumes to this day.

1. Historical Use of Tuberose Flower of Seduction - from the Aztecs to Today

In South America, tuberose was cultivated by the pre-Columbian peoples who valued it for its healing properties. It was believed to ease the fatigue of travelers. Tuberose was also favored for its intense perfume. They used this to flavor the hot chocolate drinks they were fond of.

The major users of tuberose were the Aztecs. They called it  omixochitl,  meaning "bone flower", probably because of its whiteness. During the sixteenth century the Spaniards, together with a French missionary, took the plant to Europe. There the white, fragrant flower was soon incorporated into the famous lunar gardens. These were gardens full of pale silvery buds that began to release their intense fragrances only after sunset. These nocturnal havens were very much in vogue among the ladies of the Victorian era as they highlighted their pale complexions.

The tuberose flower became very famous in Europe. That it earned citations in some of the most important literary works of the nineteenth century. Irishman Thomas Moore in his poem Lalla Rookh called it "the Mistress of the Night! She who, like a bride, perfumed and luminous, comes out when the sun goes down ". And Percy Shelley in The Sensitive Plant described it as " the sweetest flower for the scent it emanates." These days tuberose flowers continue to be appreciated in the world of fragrances for their intense and sweet scent. Tuberose is now widely cultivated in Morocco, France, South Africa, the Comoros Islands, Hawaii, Antilles, India and China.

2. The Hypnotic and Aphrodisiac Properties of Tuberose

The tuberose blooms at night when colors are not visible. So, to attract pollinating insects, it had to resort to other means. White flowers including tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, and magnolia evolved to emit a perfume so strong that it can be perceived several meters away.

Tuberose was sometimes called the "harlot of perfumery" because of the intensity of the fragrance. It was considered to be almost narcotic in the Renaissance. The fragrance was categorically forbidden to European girls. The fear was that these "flowers of sin" could inspire illicit thoughts in them. The same prohibition was also adopted in India where tuberose, ki rani,  means "suitor of the night". It was thought that their scent could lead to a spiral of emotion that was difficult to escape.

In Ayurvedic medicine tuberose is believed to stimulate the right side of the brain, increasing the ability to feel and amplifying creativity. Recent studies have confirmed the aphrodisiac power of its essential oil. Above all it is used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and tension and relax the brain, muscles and nerves. Furthermore, the essential oil of tuberose seems to be able to improve blood circulation, having a beneficial effect on the whole body.

Tuberose image

3. The Characteristics of Tuberose Perfume

In the past, tuberose absolute was extracted only in southern France through the enfleurage method. It is a process to cold treat all delicate flowers such as rose, jasmine, violet and tuberose. The technique is based on a principle dating back to medieval alchemy. According to this principle like dissolves like. The essential oil is a lipophilic substance. The solvent used for enfleurage was in ancient times a solid fat, usually of animal origin like pork or ox.

Nowadays, vegetable fats such as benzoin are used. The strong concentrate resulting from the elimination of solvents is defined as an absolute. The fragrant sap obtained from the tuberose has an intense, almost narcotic floral scent. It tends to indelibly fix itself in the memory of those who come into contact with it. The sugary notes together with the camphorated ones make the tuberose perfume incredibly feminine and sensual. It is the fragrance of a great diva with magnetic powers.

4. Tuberose Perfume

4.1 Frederic Malle Carnal Flower (Tuberose Flower of Seduction)

Carnal Flower is for those who like rich, voluptuous scents. This sensual perfume took more than 2 years to develop and was released in 2005. The perfume contains a larger dose of tuberose absolute than any other perfume on the market.

Carnal Flower opens with heavy, green citrus notes. As the tuberose develops, the green scent passes into a note of camphor, which gently softens the opulent flowers. Fruity nuances of melon and coconut add light and slightly gourmet notes to the composition and do not detract from the floral scent. The muse for this perfume was Frederic Malle’s aunt, famous actress Candice Bergen, who acted in the movie Carnal Knowledge with Jack Nicholson.

The top notes contain bergamot, melon and eucalyptus. The middle notes include ylang-ylang, jasmine, tuberose, salicylates (a natural, toxic product of herbal origin, a sort of herbal pheromone which is used by plants as a warning). And the base notes: tuberose absolute, orange blossom absolute, coconut and musk.

4.2 Diptyque Do Son Eau de Parfum

As a child, Yves Coueslant, one of Diptyque’s founders, spent his summers in Do Son, in Along Bay. The sea breeze carried with it the heady, spicy scent of tuberose. Do Son has the delicateness and persistence of a memory from a childhood in Indochina - a memory of flowers in all their sensual splendor.

Orange flower, pink peppercorn and musk are blended with the bitter-sweet notes of tuberose to create this exotic and intoxicating fragrance.

Top notes are African Orange flower, iris and rose. The middle notes consist of tuberose and pink pepper. The base notes contain benzoin and white musk.

4.3 Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica Cologne Intense

Intoxicating and enticing, Jo Malone’s Tuberose Angelica cologne scent is a modern revival of traditional tuberose fragrances. Tuberose Angelica was launched in 2014. The nose behind this fragrance is Marie Salamagne.

Earthy and aromatic with a herbaceous, peppery edge, angelica lends a sophisticated accent to this fragrance. This gives way to the intoxicating tuberose which is renowned for its sumptuous, sensuous scent that leaves a captivating trail. The amber wood brings a warm woody note to the fragrance.

The top note is angelica; the middle tuberose. and the base note is amber wood.

4.4 Estee Lauder Tuberose Gardenia Eau de Parfum

Estee Lauder’s granddaughter, Aerin Lauder, honors the memory of her grandmother with this perfume based on the Private Collection fragrances created at the beginning of the 1970s especially for Estee Lauder’s use. The fragrance composition is based on the two flowers that Estee Lauder appreciated most, gardenia and tuberose. Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia was launched in 2007.

Perfume with gardenia fragrance is always a popular choice.

This luxurious and elegant perfume brings together the white flowers of tuberose and gardenia in harmony to create a fresh, modern bouquet. The floral fragrance gains richness thanks to an underlying mix of neroli, orange flower and white lily.

The top notes are neroli, lilac, and rosewood. Middle notes include tuberose, orange flowers, jasmine, gardenia and white lily. The base notes are carnation and vanilla bourbon.

4.5 Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle Eau de Parfum

This rich and complex scent was inspired by an 18-century chateau in the Bois de Boulogne. The gardens are filled with a multitude of white flowers, varieties of roses, hyacinths, daffodils and narcissus - to the great delight of anyone who loves nature. Guerlain’s Jardins de Bagatelle is a symphony of tuberose, citrus, lily-of-the-valley, musk and neroli considered best tuberose perfume.

Jardins de Bagatelle is for women who always perfume themselves for the pleasure of seduction as well as for their own enjoyment.

The top notes are aldehydes, bergamot, violet, and lemon. The middle notes: neroli, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, magnolia, narcissus, orchid, rose, and ylang-ylang and gardenia ( you can find also an article about gardenia perfumes). The base notes consist of tuberose, musk, patchouli, vetiver, and cedar.

4.6 Robert Piquet Fracas

Robert Piquet Fracas

Fracas is often considered the original tuberose and best tuberose fragrance. It was first launched in 1948 and then reissued in 1998. An intoxicating fragrance in the Parisian style, it is known for its refined simplicity, and as an object of desire for women all over the world. Fracas is glamorous and comfortable at the same time; modern and provocative. A heady, seductive fragrance, Fracas is ultra-feminine and sexy!

The top notes include bergamot, mandarin, and lilac. The middle notes: white flowers, tuberose, jasmine, white narcissus, gardenia, lily-of-the-valley and white iris. And the base notes are orange blossom, violet, sandalwood, vetiver and musk.

4.7 Byredo Flowerhead Eau de Parfum

Inspired by traditional Indian weddings, Byredo’s Flowerhead offers an explosion of floral notes from tuberose, jasmine and rose. These combine with angelica seeds, Sicilian lemon and amber to complete this exquisite composition.

It is a bold yet modern fragrance.

Top notes include angelica seeds, cranberry, and lemon. The middle notes consist of jasmine Sambac, tuberose, green notes and rose petals. And the base notes are ambergris and suede.

Because of its intense sweet fragrance, the tuberose flower is symbolic of wild pleasures and primordial passion. Tuberose is the fragrance for seduction. If you are in the mood for a passionate affair then a perfume with the smell of tuberose is just what you need!