Sunday, September 5, 2010
On my way to class the other morning I smelled jasmine before I even saw it. Looking around, I found, to my delight, that the university landscapers had planted two large beds of what appeared to be jasmine in front of the building where I teach. On closer examination and some research, I concluded that the “jasmine” was actually Trachelospermum jasminoides, otherwise known as “star jasmine” or “confederate jasmine”. The pinwheel shape of the flowers was the giveaway, as was the fragrance, which is a bit different from true jasmine. Star Jasmine is a shrub or vine that’s supposed to be hardy all the way down to 10 degrees F (-12C).
Of course I picked a spray of flowers and passed it around for the class to smell. No one had ever smelled live jasmine before, or maybe no one wanted to admit it. I wonder whether kids in their late teens have never smelled real flowers, or whether it's uncool at that age to admit that one goes around smelling flowers. Star jasmine smells sort of like a cross between true jasmine and ylang-ylang. The stuff that grows at the university has a heady, sweet scent that doesn’t have the indolic component of many true jasmines, but instead is like a light jasmine with a spicy, slightly smoky note to it. I have a star jasmine accord (Jasmin Etoile) made by Givaudan, a company that manufactures many of the perfume raw materials used by the large perfume houses, but it doesn’t have the same smoky feel that the real thing does.
I used the Givaudan star jasmine accord in “Carolina”, but now am thinking about how to custom-build a better star jasmine for future use. I’m also thinking about getting a plant or two for my garden. The more fragrant plants, the better!