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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Somehow April has gotten away from me just as March did. After returning from San Francisco, spring quarter started, I had a big orchid show and sale last weekend, I’ve been trying to catch up on shipping orders out, I’ve got an orchid show and sale coming up in Portland in less than 2 weeks, and then there’s the Seattle Artisan Fragrance Salon the first week of May. I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to get started back up blogging again after a hiatus, partly because I feel guilty about going for so long without a post and partly because I’ve skipped so much and can’t quite figure out where to begin again.

I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter where I begin, so will brag about the wonderful new plant that I found at the nursery where last weekend’s orchid show was held. It caught my eye as I was passing by on my way somewhere else. It was a small bonsai-like shrub or young tree with thick, convoluted branches, long thorns, no leaves, and small yellow flower buds everywhere. The trunk and branches were a beautiful green and silver striped pattern. I stopped to admire it, and discovered that it was something called Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, also known as hardy bitter orange or Japanese bitter orange. During the two days of the show, I came back to visit it three or four times, and finally decided that it was coming home with me.

Flying Dragon is a dwarf cultivar, so probably won't grow to the height of a full-sized tree. It's now sitting on the back deck, waiting to decide whether it wants to be a bonsai or a garden tree. I’ve been reading a little about Poncirus trifoliata, also called trifoliate orange or Japanese bitter orange, which is native to China and Korea. It’s deciduous, and very hardy, reputedly growing successfully as far north as Boston. I don’t know why it’s not more commonly sold and grown here in the Pacific Northwest, where it seems we have the ideal climate for it. I learned that many commercial citrus trees are grafted onto Poncirus rootstocks, which are sturdier and more pest-resistant than those of commercial citrus trees. It sounds like a winner.

The flower buds that are just starting to open look like they’re going to be standard, white, citrus flowers. They’re supposed to be fragrant, so I’ll be checking every day to see how the fragrance develops. I’m looking forward to having a tree full of citrus blossoms that I can eventually harvest and use for enfleurage. The tree is also supposed to produce fruit, but that remains to be seen. It certainly has enough flowers to produce something!

[Top image is my photo of the plant in question; bottom two are different Poncirus trifoliata cultivars from Wikimedia]


  1. I have been eyeing Flying Dragon (Poncirus trifoliata monstrosa) in a plant catalogue but didn't want to order and pay the hefty shipping charges. I understand that these plants, besides being used as citrus rootstock, can be planted to create really nasty, impenetrable hedges because of their hook shaped thorns. The fruit is supposed yield a lemon like juice.

    There is another cold hardy citrus that looks interesting to me called a Yuzu Ichandrin (Citrus junos). This one has edible lemon-lime flavored fruits and is said to be hardy to 0 degrees F.

    I shouldn't even be looking at either of these because I have 40 lbs of seed potatoes and 6 camellia sinensis plants to get in the ground. Your pictures are really tempting me, though! Maybe I will wait to see how your plant does before I try one of my own.

    1. Gail, Flying Dragon is a gorgeous plant! I imagine you can find it locally given that I bought mine at Sky Nursery in Shoreline and they had one other plant that wasn't quite as nice as the one I got. You could probably call around and locate one.

      Now that I'm getting into citrus growing (who would have thought?) I'll have to try yuzu, too. I love yuzu essential oil! I think there are actually several citrus varieties that will grow around here.