What is tuberose?
Tuberose (tuberose, Polianthes tuberosa) is a white flower that blooms at night. Although the name may suggest otherwise, it is not a family of the rose. The flower originates from India and Mexico and was imported from India to Europe in the 17th century. From that time on, tuberose has been cultivated in Grasse for perfumery. The flower was very popular at the French court with Sun King (Louis XIV). The mistress of Louis XIV, Madame de la Vallière, always wanted a number of bouquets with tuberose around her.
Extracting the scent of tuberose
The flowers are picked by hand before dawn and then preferably processed immediately. The oil can be either by extraction as obtained by enfleurage. In these times the labor-intensive enfleurage technique is hardly used anymore. For 200 grams of tuberose absolute you need 1200 kilograms of (!) flower buds. This makes it a very expensive ingredient. The scent is known to be very seductive and sensual: In the Victorian times, virgins were even advised not to walk outside when the tuberose is in bloom, because the scent could incite them to immoral thoughts (and deeds!).
How does tuberose smell?
Tuberose is a beautiful flower that smells incredibly strong and specific. You like it or not, it is literally 'love or hate'. In nature you often see that white flowers smell strongly. They cannot lure bees and butterflies with their color, all the more with their scent! The tuberose smells voluptuously floral, exotic, gardenia-like, lushly full, creamy, honey-like, sometimes green, slightly stubborn (heady) and can have an animal accent (due to the high concentration of indoles). Theatrical and dramatic in optima forma! The English language describes the smell of tuberose "carnal", literally translated into "carnal" and "sensuous."
Can you resist the tempting smell of tuberose?