The last few posts have been pretty heavy, so I thought I’d go to some lighter fare today. For the past two weeks Phalaenopsis deliciosa (aka Kingidium deliciosum) has been blooming. It’s a cute little Asian species that just loves to bloom. In fact, it loves blooming so much that one of its children, not yet a year out of flask, is also blooming with two large spikes, and is bigger than its parent. There are many small flowers to a spike, creamy yellow with red on the lip. Flower color seems to vary a lot with conditions, being lighter when it blooms in winter or early spring.
The flowers may be small, but they make up for it with a lovely fragrance that is mainly emitted in the mid-morning. It’s citrusy and floral in the way that perfumes are floral. At times it seems heavy, like a vintage perfume, but at other times it seems light, like a cologne. It reminds me a lot of the original Phalaenopsis javanica flower that I used as an inspiration for Javanica, and also of some citrusy hybrids using Phalaenopsis gigantea.
What’s interesting is that many people seem to be anosmic to these Phalaenopsis fragrances. I offered the Phalaenopsis deliciosa to Michael to sniff, at the peak of its fragrance puffing, and he couldn’t smell anything. When I had some fragrant hybrid Phalaenopsis at a show, about half of the people who smelled them couldn’t detect any fragrance and the other half loved them. I guess the bottom line is that these flowers are delicious if you can smell them, but if you can’t, they’re just another pretty flower.
These examples of anosmia to a strong (to me) flower fragrance points to the difficulty of evaluating perfumes given how much variability there is in human olfactory perception. If I were to synthesize a perfect Phalaenopsis deliciosa fragrance, half of the people who tried it wouldn't be able to smell anything. Now that I think about it, that might be the perfect solution to "perfume-free" environments - a fragrance designed to be perceptible to the wearer but not everyone else, sort of like the high-frequency "teenager ringtones" mentioned in one of the recent comments.