Osmanthus – Fragrance From China

Osmanthus was a flower that mom often dreamed of having in our backyard. Its smell was distinctly Chinese. In mom��s memory, it was always connected with her hometown in Southern China.

A few years back, mom found the plant from a nursery in the south, ran by a Chinese gardener. She bought it on the spot, held it in her lap all the way home, afraid of breaking a branch, planted in our back yard. Nothing happened during the first couple of years. Then, it started blooming in an autumn night of 2003.

I still remember that night when I got home, mom told me to stand by our patio where chayote vines had climbed all over. It was the spot where she last smelled our osmanthus. I obediently stood at the exact spot where mom has appointed, under the moonlight, hoped to experience this legendary fragrance that I had heard so much about, and which I has never known growing up in northern China. After ten minutes of enjoying the hearty smell of matured chayote on the vine, I smelled nothing resembled floral. Given up, I wondered around the backyard, on my way back to the garage door, below our wind chime, a breeze passed me by, and there it was, a smell I could never forget again. It was delicate, warm, light, and with a tiny bit of sweetness. Osmanthus.

“Osmanthus aroma has to be sought.” Mom said. She was right. In ancient Chinese poetry, there were all kinds of verses describing this phenomenon. Going to the mountains in an autumn night was considered a poetic adventure, “Mountain temple, Amidst moonlight, seeking osmanthus.” A fragrance that drifts. If you stood in front of the blooming plant and firmly planting your nose into the bloom, you would smell a version of the fragrance, but it never smelled quite as good as when you catch it in a passing breeze. The fragrance seems to reach its full “body” when in flight…

Here is an article that analyzed in very detailed chemistry formula the molecule contents of osmanthus aroma: Osmanthus

The following are descriptions of a number of perfumes that are ‘reputed’ to contain osmanthus.

Cassini (Oleg Cassini) 1979 – Chypre-Fruity floral
Top Notes: Mandarin, freesia, osmanthus
Heart Notes: Jasmine, Bulgarian rose, tuberose, chrysanthemum, carnation
Base Notes: Mousse de chene, amber, oakmoss

Desirade (Aubusson) 1990 – Floral Semi-Oriental
Top Notes: Italian bergamot, Russian coriander, Madagascar ylang-ylang, pineapple, aldehydes
Heart Notes: Chinese osmanthus, jasmine, rose, cassia, tuberose, orange blossom, violet
Base Notes: Sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, Somalian opopanax, plum, raspberry, vanilla, musk

Destiny (Marilyn Miglin) 1990 – Floral-Fresh
Notes: Calla lilies, white rose, fo-ti-tieng, osmanthus, karo karunde, white orchid, narcissus

DNA (Bijan) 1993 – Floral-Ambery
Top Notes: Rosewood, minty geranium, ylang-ylang, bergamot
Heart Notes: Jasmine, lily of the valley, tuberose, clove, osmanthus
Base Notes: Myrrh, oakmoss, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, benzoin, amber

Elysium (Clarins) 1993 – Floral-Fruity
Top Notes: Jasmine, honeydew, ylang-ylang, dewberry, linden blossom
Heart Notes: Lily of the valley, freesia, rose, osmanthus
Base Notes: Sandalwood, papaya, musk, cedarwood

Histoire D’Amour (Aubusson) 1984 – Chypre-Floral
Top Notes: Mandarin, bergamot, basil, osmanthus
Heart Notes: Jasmine, rose, narcissus, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, galbanum
Base Notes: Oakmoss, musk, patchouli

Il Bacio (Marcella Borghese) 1993 – Floral-Fruity
Top Notes: Honeysuckle, rose, jasmine, freesia, orchid, lily of the valley
Heart Notes: Peach, plum, melon, passion fruit, pear, osmanthus, iris
Base Notes: Amber, sandalwood, violet, musk, cedarwood

La Prairie – Floral-Fruity
Top Notes: Bulgarian rose, honeysuckle, peach, tagetes, osmanthus, peony, violet leaves
Heart Notes: Orange blossom, peach, plum, tuberose, heliotrope, rose
Base Notes: Sandalwood, amber, oakmoss, patchouli, musk, cedarwood

Oh La La! (Azzaro) 1993 – Oriental
Top Notes: Raspberry, peach, mandarin, bergamot, fig leaves, muscat grape
Heart Notes: Yellow rose, jasmine, narcissus, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, osmanthus
Base Notes: Cinnamon, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, patchouli, tonka bean

1000 (Jean Patou) 1972 – Floral
Top Notes: Greens, bergamot, anjelica, coriander, tarragon
Heart Notes: Chinese osmanthus, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, violet, iris, geranium
Base Notes: Vetiver, patchouli, moss, sandalwood, amber, musk, civet

Sunflowers for Women by Elizabeth Arden – 1993
Elizabeth Arden introduced Sunflowers in 1993 as a response to the push on natural products. Arden calls it a ��prestige fragrance without prestige pricing��. This is a fruity, floral scent for the everyday adventures.
Top Notes: bergamot, melon, peach
Middle Notes: cyclamen, osmanthus, jasmine, tea rose
Base Notes: sandalwood, moss, musk

Realities (Liz Claiborne ) 1990- Fresh, Oriental
Introduced in 1990 by American sportswear designer Liz Claiborne, Realities was her second fragrance launch. A Claiborne spokesperson says that ‘Realities celebrates the intimacy and reality of a woman’s life as she and her family truly live it. This fresh, oriental fragrance has notes of bergamot, chamomile, sage, osmanthus, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, white lily, carnation, freesia, vanilla, amber, sandalwood and peach.

Escape by Calvin Klein 1991
Calvin Klein introduced Escape in Fall of 1991. It was created to reflect a woman’s deepest passions and desires to escape the boundaries of everyday life and discover romance and adventure, uninhibited.
This fresh fruity floral is a blend of ingredients from all over the world. It opens with chamomile, apple, lichee, tagette, coriander, hyacinth, black currant, ylang-ylang and mandarin nuances. At its heart are rose, osmanthus, plum, peach, muguet, clove, jasmine and carnation followed by a base of musk, sandalwood, tonka and vetiver.

Chaumet by Chaumet (1999)
Top Note: Green ivy, freesia, citrus fruits
Middle Note: Tea flower, jasmine, osmanthus
Base Note: White musks, sandalwood, cedarwood

Ultraviolet 1999 – is a spicy floral oriental scent.
The top notes include fresh capsicum, a heart of Japanese osmanthus and a base of vanilla and gray amber. The perfume was launched in Europe before entering the U.S. in early February 2000 through the Dallas division of Dillard Department Stores.

I think osmanthus is getting popular nowadays. It might has something to do with the sudden obsession with anything Chinese in recent fashion world. Here is another article i found on-line, regarding a perfume made by a little London Perfumary.Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus

The Different Company also makes a perfume that is just called, Osmanthus. 🙂