Wednesday, February 8, 2012
My ongoing exploration of Artemisia species would not be complete without including Artemisia pallens, also known as davana. It’s a small shrub that grows all over India, mostly in cultivation. It’s an attractive plant with lacy silver-green leaves and yellow flowers. It is reported to prefer growing near sandalwood trees, although I suspect that it’s planted there for convenience. Davana essential oil is distilled from the leaves, stems and flowers of the plant. It is orange in color, with a strong, woody-aromatic fruity fragrance along with chamomile and sweet hay-like notes. The fruit components remind me of oily dried peaches and apricots. I can only vouch for how it smells on paper and on my own skin, though, because it has the reputation of being a shape-shifter, assuming a different quality on every person who wears it. After today’s experience, I suspect that it may also be different each time the same person wears it. Davana is rumored to be an aphrodisiac. In addition to being used in perfume, it’s also used to flavor some types of pastries and sweets, so it’s not only sniffable, it’s edible.
It seems to me that davana enhances other scents, too. After applying it, I was outside, running in an area where there were a lot of wet, rotting leaves, and the smell of the leaves seemed super-normally strong. When I sniffed the davana on my wrist, it seemed to have picked up some of the leaf smell. On one part of my run, there was an area with a sweet, floral scent that also seemed to be enhanced, and the davana seemed to be echoing that scent, too. This is the time of year when a lot of trees and shrubs are starting to bloom, so I’m not sure what the flowers were. It was also early evening, when a lot of smells are especially strong anyway.
Whatever its other properties, I can certainly testify to the marvelous aroma and relaxing qualities of davana. As soon as I put it on I sank into a feeling of extreme well-being. As I sit here inhaling the fragrance, I wonder why have I not yet used davana in a perfume. One of my all-natural perfumes is most definitely going to be built around davana.
Because I’m curious to learn more about its shape-shifting, scent-enhancing, and scent-mimicking properties, I’d like to offer as many as 10 small (0.5 ml) samples of davana oil to readers who are willing to wear it and report back on their impressions. It will be fun to collect all of the reports in a blog post!
If you’d like to try a sample of davana, please leave a comment here.
[Davana photo from Antica Erborista Romana]