Every perfume composition contains a true richness of fragrance notes. Usually, it is comprised of around a hundred different notes! Some of them, such as rose and lemon, accompany us everyday. Some of them – e.g. flowers of frangipani or yuzu – are more exotic. Below, we present you with the most popular and most interesting fragrance notes.
Agar (oud, agar tree)
It is one of the most precious and rarest materials used in perfumery. It comes from an evergreen aloe tree which is rich in resin. Its scent is unique: it is balsamic sweet, and at the same time sharp, referring to spices and incense.
A wax-like substance that is a secretion of alimentary canal of sperm whales. These mammals leave this substance in the water near to places they prey. After processing, this substance gains a balsamic scent, a little similar to musk, but with a sea accent. It is used mostly to strengthen the scent. It used to be called “black gold of the sea.” Currently it is almost impossible to obtain due to the fact that sperm whales are an endangered species, however it can be replaced with plant or synthetic substitutes.
The characteristic, sweet-sharp aroma of anise is acquired from small trees found mostly in South Asia. It is the anise oil acquired from the fruit that is used to produce perfumes. It has relaxing properties.
Also called styrax, benzoin is a balsamic resin extracted from bark of trees from Styrax genus, originally found in Indonesia. It is mainly used to preserve the more elusive scent substances and strengthening perfume compositions.
It is an inedible orange grown mainly in Italy. The fragrant bergamot oil is derived from the zest. Its aroma is fresh and citrus-floral. Its scent will soothe and relax, and also improve concentration. Bergamot gives aroma to teas, for example Earl Grey.
It is a decorative shrub with beautiful and abundant blossom. The scent of lilac is intensive, intoxicating, and in perfumery it is substituted with synthetic equivalents.
This is fruit of a tree found in Brazil and Guyana. It has a warm and sweet scent similar to the smell of rum and vanilla.
It has a sweet, fruity aroma that brings optimism. It is a true scent of summer. The smell of peach cannot be acquired from fruit, so it is substituted with synthetic equivalents.
It is a substance of animal origin, which is a secretion of glands of African Civet, a spotted wild cat from Ethiopia. Presently, in perfume production, synthetic equivalents are used. Along with musk it is used in combination with heavy, powdery and sweet fragrance notes.
A well-known spice with a warm spicy-sweet smell. Cinnamon oil is acquired from cinnamomum, a tree grown in sub-tropical climate.
A popular citrus fruit originally grown in Asia. In perfumery what is used, is a lemon oil squeezed from unripe fruit. It has a sharp, fresh aroma, used usually in the head accord
It is made from cocoa pulp and butter (acquired from theobroma seed), sugar, and sometimes also milk. It delighted even ancient Indians – Olmec, Mayan, Aztec – as it stimulates senses and improves mood. Its tempting aroma is exceptionally sweet and appetising.
It is a coniferous tree that can be found in mountainous regions, such as Himalayas. Cedar oil is distilled from North American red cedar and Moroccan juniper. It is one of the basic ingredients used in perfume industry, mainly in scents for men. It has a long-lasting woody aroma.
It is a stunning tree found in South America. It has beautiful purple flowers shaped like chalices. Their scent is intoxicating and seductive, and it reminds a bit of the aroma that Night-Scented Stock flowers have.
It is found in central Asia and Asia Minor. Almond oil made from almond tree seeds is used to add aroma to cakes or liquor, or to produce scent substances.
Sandalwood (santalum tree)
It is found in South-East India. Its scent is very popular in perfumery. It has a sweet, resin-like, slightly musky note.
Tec tona tree (teak)
It is a tree from monsoon forests known for resilience to moisture and high oiliness. Fresh wood from this tree has a light yellow colour and a pleasant yet intensive aroma.
Evergreen tree and shrub found mainly in Australia and Tasmania. The ethereal oil acquired from the leaves and twigs is used in perfume production.
There are over 800 plants that belong to the violet family. The flowers have a rich, sweet aroma, and the leaves are herbal with spice notes. The leaves that resemble the aroma of English lawns are used in perfume production.
The flowers are very rarely used to produce extracts, as the amount of material that would be needed is almost unobtainable. They are substituted with aldehyde isolated from geranium oil called ionone.
It is also called plumeria or lei flower. It is known for the hypnotising scent of its flowers: white-yellow or pink. These flowers are called the “mother of all perfumes” and they are also considered a symbol of love and
immortality. The small trees that these flowers grow on are found in tropical and subtropical climate, among others in Polynesia, Caribbean, Malaysia, and Brazil.
It is a perennial related to ginger that has a fresh citrus scent. It is grown in Asia, and its aromatic rhizomes are used in Thai and Indonesian cuisine.
It is a resin from Ferula galbaniflua plant that is found in Near East. It may have different colours: from light brown, through yellowish, to yellow-green shades. It smells a little musky, with notes of fresh greenness and balsamic wood.
A distant relative of jasmine, with Latin name of Gardenia jasminoides, smells just as sweet and strong, and looks even more beautiful. Gardenia is a little shrub found in East Asia. In the language of flowers it means love and gentleness. It is also associated with femininity. The absolute from gardenia flowers is extremely expensive, so it is substituted with its synthetic equivalent.
This plant found in Africa is related to regal pelargonium. The oil is produced from crushed flowers, leaves and stems, and its aroma reminds of rose water, but it is more herbal and citrusy. Geranium extract can be found in many perfumed waters for men.
They are dried flower buds of a tree called Syzygium aromaticum found, among others, in Indonesia. They add a sweet-spicy aroma to compositions. Cloves are also used as spice, for example with gingerbread. Due to their warming properties they are considered aphrodisiac.
Pomegranate shrub is found in the region of the Mediterranean Sea, in India, in the Near East and Caucasus. Its fruit full of refreshing seeds has been appreciated for ages, among others due to its antiageing properties. The taste of pomegranate is sweet, sharp and fresh.
It is a photophilious plant that always turns its stems towards the sun – and this is from where its name is derived. It is the combination of two Greek words: helios (meaning: the sun) and tropein (meaning: to turn, to follow). Heliotropium mainly has small purple flowers gathered into splendid canopies. Their scent is delightful: intense, sweet, with strong vanilla notes.
It comes from Asia and it delights with a beautiful scent of flowers that is unambiguously associated with coming spring. The scent of hiacynth is sweet-herbal, water-like, intense. It adds sweetness to perfumes.
Ginger rhizomes are one of the most popular oriental spices and can be found in tropical climate of Asia and Australia. Ginger has a sharp and distinctive taste, and a slightly fl Pomegranate oral, fresh scent.
This plant is commonly found in the northern hemisphere and in perfumery it is the rhizomes that are used. They give scents a subtle powdery and creamy note. Absolute from iris is one of the most expensive scent substances in the world: to produce only 100g, 40 tones of rhizomes are needed, and the process of acquiring the scent – from the moment of drying the rhizomes to storing, peeling, boiling and squeezing – lasts over two years. Due to the time needed to acquire the extract, and also its price, presently iris is substituted with synthetic substances.
Delicate jasmine flowers have an intoxicating, sweet aroma that is considered to be aphrodisiac. They are one of the best-known scent substances that has been used in perfumery for ages. The most expensive jasmine is grown especially for perfume industry in France. The cheaper jasmine comes from India, Egypt or Morocco. To obtain 1 kilo of extract, 200 kilos of flowers are needed, therefore the natural scent is often substituted with synthetic compounds.
Coniferous plant that belongs to the Cupressaceae family is commonly found in mild climate, and in mountainous regions of subtropical climate. In perfume making it is usually the fruit that is used – it gives a pleasant herbal aroma.
It is called the “queen of spices” and it comes second to the “king of spices” – pepper. The plant itself, true cardamom, is a distant relative of ginger and it can be found in Indian Peninsula, Ceylon, China and Indonesia. In various cuisines it is the dried seeds that are used: whole, chopped or ground. In perfumery cardamom was used even in ancient Egypt, and its scent is mild, spicy, with eucalyptus and citrus note.
It is a substance with a strong scent, which is secreted from glands of North American Beaver and European Beaver to oil the animal’s fur. In perfume production it is used in a form of red-brown powder from which alcohol extract are made. It is used as preserver and it has a sharp, sensual, animalic scent. Nowadays it is substituted with synthetic equivalents.
It comes from the region of the Mediterranean Sea and it is often used in various cuisines, especially Asian. Ethereal oils acquired from coriander add to perfume herbal and citrus notes.
Resin substance acquired from some species of boswellia – a tree or shrub found mainly in Ethiopia and Arabian Peninsula. It gives perfumes a spicy-smoky aroma.
Lily of the valley
It is a plant whose flowers smell with a very fresh and intense scent. Ethereal oils acquired from lily of the valley are often used in floral perfumes.
It is a substance that smells like fresh hay, and it is found in grasses and orchidaceous plants, and also in cinnamon.
It is a small tree or shrub that bears fruit that look like elongated oranges in the size of quail eggs. This plant is grown in America, China and in the Mediterranean, mostly in Greece. Ethereal oil from kumquat zest smells
ike a combination of orange and bergamot scents. Its aroma is sharp, sweet and citrusy.
It is a symbol of innocence, and its floral, quite sweet and fresh scent is best-known in the form of neroli oil acquired from mainly bitter orange. Orange trees come from Asia, but they are also grown in the Mediterranean countries. Their flowers and zest contain ethereal oil that has relaxation and anti-stress properties.
It is a sunny scent of joy associated with early spring. A subtle, charming aroma brings relaxation and good mood. In Japan, cherry trees are called sakura, and their flowers are the symbol of elusive beauty.
There are around 30 species of lavender; however the most fragrant one comes from France, Spain and Italy. The scent of lavender was used in perfumery already in antiquity. It is intoxicating, quite heavy and it is known for its calming properties. Lavender fragrance notes often appear in men’s fragrances from fougère and chypre families.
It is a plant from legume family, grown mostly in Europe and Asia. Its strong herbal-sweet aroma is associated with childhood as it is often used in confectionery.
These wild growing trees and shrubs can be found in East Asia and both Americas. It is often grown as decorative plant. Magnolia’s scent is sensual and sweet. In perfumes it is often combined with rose, jasmine, neroli and ylang-ylang. Tangerine This popular citrus fruit brings to scents citrus refreshment, sweetness and a delicate floral accent. Tangerine aroma is considered to have relaxing and calming properties.
This evergreen tropical fruit tree is mainly found in India and Indochina. The scent of mango is usually used in oriental and fruity compositions. It brings freshness and also a mild musk note.
A popular perennial valued mostly because of its characteristic taste and healing properties. Ethereal oil acquired from pepper mint has a fresh, sharp scent, so it brings to compositions refreshing and cooling notes.
This aromatic resin from Cammiphora myrrha shrub found in Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen. It is one of the oldest fragrant substances. Its aroma is warm, balsamic, with a sharp bitter note. It is mainly used with scents for men.
It is a flower nectar processed by insects, mainly by bees. This well-known delicacy has many tastes and aromas. Floral honey has the strongest, the most distinct and sometimes even a bit sharp scent. Honeydew based honey has a little milder, sometimes resin-like aroma. Honey brings to compositions warmth and sweetness.
It is actually a fungus from the family of lichen. It grows in Spain, Portugal, France and Morocco. It is picked in winter and early spring from trees growing by the coastline of Mediterranean Sea. It is an addition to chypre and fougère scents.
It is mostly found in Europe and Asia. Especially for perfume industry white narcissus is grown in the Netherlands and the south of France. The scent of narcissus is very strong, hypnotising, floral-green.
It is an ethereal oil produced from bitter orange blossom that has stunningly relaxing and soothing aroma. It is present in most floral perfumes.
It is a characteristic element of scenery of both Americas. It is also grown in Europe and Asia. Although this plant, which belongs to cactus family, has the ability to store up water and adapting to very difficult conditions, many species of opuntia are endangered. Therefore in modern perfumery, natural scents are substituted with synthetic equivalents. To compositions opuntia adds exotic and stimulating aroma.
It is a tree that comes from South-East Asia. The oil from its flowers brings to compositions warm and floral scent with slightly sharp notes.
This inconspicuous plant that resembles nettle comes from tropical countries of Asia, such as Philippines or Indonesia. Its leaves give out a deep sensual aroma, a bit sweet and herbal. This scent is recommended especially for men. It soothes stress, it calms and refreshes.
It belongs to the family of Caricaceae and grows mainly in South and Central America. Its fruit is considered aphrodisiac. It brings to compositions heat of the tropics.
There are many types of tropical creepers from subtropical America that are called passion flowers. Some species of this plant bear very tasty sweet-sour fruit called passion fruit. The most common species is Passiflora incarnata with white or slightly purple flowers. Its scent is floral and seductive.
These are very popular dried berries of allspice, also called myrtle pepper, English pepper or newspice. These small aromatic fruit of the evergreen tree called Pimenta dioica are a well-known and appreciated spice. The English called it allspice as it combines the taste and aroma of many spices: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, juniper and pepper. The scent of Jamaican pepper is pleasantly spicy, with a delicate floral note.
This well-known spice is the dried fruit of Piper nigrum – creeper grown in tropical countries, and in the Indian mregion of Malabar Coast. Black pepper, which is the sharpest-tasting pepper, is made from unripe dried fruit, and there is a reason why it is called “the king of spices.” White pepper, which is milder, but still with an intense scent, is made from ripe fruit of the same plant and devoid of the outside sheath. Green pepper, with fresher scent, is made of unripe grains preserved in acetic acid or brine.
It is also called Peruvian pepper, pink peppercorn, or schinus pepper. Contrary to appearances it does not have much in common with black pepper. The grains do resemble black pepper; however they are much less spicy. Therefore whole grains of pink pepper are added to dishes, and it is even used in desserts.
It is found in regions of mild climate and it is often grown in gardens as decorative plant. Its large, mostly pinnate flowers have an intense and intoxicating smell.
It is a substance acquired from glands of goats living in Tibet, China, Nepal, Japan, Siberia and Burma. It smells like ammonia, but after combining it with alcohol solution, it gains a sensual aroma. It perfectly preserves fragrance compositions. Currently it is substituted with synthetic equivalents due to the fact that the species is endangered.
Rosmarinus officinalis comes from South Europe. This small herb with aromatic needle-like leaves has been cultivated for ages due to its high content of ethereal oils. The scent of rosemary is fresh and clear. It has stimulating properties.
It is grown among others in India, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and Bulgaria. Producing 1 kilo of Damask rose oil requires 3 tons of petals. The aroma of the rose is added to all sensual compositions.
This is one of the most appreciated roses. It comes from the south of France. It has an exceptional aroma and is added to very few perfumes due to its high cost.
This drink of cut-throat pirates, smugglers and sailors is made of sugar cane or molasses. This strong alcohol has a long and colourful history. It is believed that it came to Europe from China or India, where it was known for ages. The recipe for rum was brought to the Caribbean along with Christopher Columbus. Nowadays, it is the Caribbean where the best types of rum are produced. Depending on the colour and aroma we can differentiate between white and golden (both recommended especially for exotic drinks) or more intense dark rum coming from the region of Jamaica or Haiti.
Silver-grey santolina is a small shrub that comes from the region of the Mediterranean Sea. It has characteristic comb-like leaves that give out pleasant herbal aroma. When it blooms, it becomes covered with little yellow flowers. In the medieval times, cypress santolina was considered a holly plant. It was grown along herbs and used in healing.
Its Latin name, Bellis perennis, comes from the word“bella” meaning “pretty.” It belongs to the Asteraceae family and it grows in mild climate. The yellow middle is surrounded with delicate white or pink petals. Not everyone knows that daisies are edible and contain a lot of vitamin C. Their scent is herbal and fresh.
It is the flower of crocus that grows in European gardens. The valuable spice that saffron is is acquired from dried stigmas (parts of gynoecium of the flower) of saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) with delicate purple flowers and yellow-red stamens. Saffron was known already in antiquity as spice, medicine and fabric colourant. When dried, it has a sharp taste and characteristic, slightly resin-like scent.
Tahitian gardenia (Gardenia taitensis) is a charming symbol of Polynesia islands, especially Tahiti. This dark green shrub with shiny leaves blossoms all year round and gives snow-white flowers shaped like a pinwheel. Its name derives from the word “tiara” meaning crown, diadem. It has an intense, intoxicating aroma.
The origin of this Italian dessert is still shrouded in mystery. Some people think that the recipe was created in the 17th/18th century by Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Others say that the dessert was created for the Duke by Sienese cooks. In the classic tiramisù recipe there are biscuits soaked in espresso and aromatic amaretto liquor or Marsala wine, mascarpone cheese, sugar, cream, eggs and dark chocolate. It smells sweet, it is stimulating, and has coffee-almond notes.
It has been the taste and smell of Mexico for centuries. This traditional Mexican strong vodka is created from fermented juice of blue agave. The juice itself (called “pulque”) was drunk even by ancient Aztec people; however the production of the real strong tequila starter in the 16th century after the Spanish brought from Europe the ability of distillation. The name “tequila” derives from the name of a town in Jalisco province that is famous for producing this alcohol even today.
It is a plant that comes from Mexico and nowadays is grown also in India, Morocco and Egypt. It has a heavy, strong and sensual smell
Its warm balsamic aroma helps to regenerate strength. Vanilla is a real sweetness of the tropics valued already by Aztec people. Its characteristic scent is the merit of aromatic vanillin contained in the long seed pods of this plant that belongs to the family of orchidaceous plants.
It has a fresh citrus scent that reduces tiredness, relaxes, and soothes the senses. The exceptional properties of this plant have been valued even by ancient Egyptians who called this plant the “tears of Isis.” The characteristic refreshing aroma comes from the leaves of lemon verbena shrubs, called Aloysua citrodora.
It is a root of grass that grows in Indonesia, China, Haiti, Brazil and England. It gives a spicy scent with resin‑like, powdery accents. It is used mainly with men’s fragrances.
Its name means “the flower of flowers” and it is related to orchids. Its sweet smelling white flowers can be foundin Comoros, Madagascar and Philippines. They grow gathered in blossoms on 20m tall trees. Oil made from ylang-ylang adds to oriental compositions lightness, but it is intoxicating and intense.
It is a citrus fruit that comes from Japan and it is called a Japanese lemon. It looks a bit like a small grapefruit; it has a yellowish uneven zest. Although its looks are not too charming, it adds to fragrance compositions a unique character. It smells intensely, it is pleasantly sour, but also it is sweet-sharp, which makes it similar to the combination of lemon, tangerine, lime and pineapple