What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

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!


  1. I miss jasmine. I grew up in southern California, and there were two night blooming jasmines under my bedroom windows. They were heaven! There was star jasmine around, too, of course. And orange blossoms. Fragrance was readily available down there. Then I moved to north Idaho, and the fragrant plant selection shrunk way, way down.

    I missed those scents, but didn't realize how much until I went down to Gilroy Ca to help a friend move. We went to the bank, and while waiting in the drive thru line, I embarrassed him by leaning out of the car window- way, way out- because there was a bed of star jasmine there and I was enraptured by it!

  2. Accidentally wound up here. Did you ever figure out a way to get the real star Jasmine smell ??

  3. I've always thought it smelled like root beer.