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, May 23, 2018


For several years now I have been building up a collection of Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrrh) trees, all of which will have to be content to grow more or less as bonsai. They seem easy to grow in pots, but are leafless during the winter, and during the summer, too, if I don’t water them regularly. In the spring, after their winter dormant period, all of these trees start to leaf out, so at that time I try to give them plenty of water to facilitate the process. One day early last spring I noticed that the Boswellia neglecta had a big drop of resin exuding from a place where it had been trimmed months previously. I can only conclude that when the plants break dormancy their sap starts flowing the way maple sap does, and that it leaks out of any cut area. After producing sap, the little tree put out some nice, green, frond-like leaves, lost them during the winter, and has now grown more leaves. Through all this, the resin drop has kept hanging on. 

Early this spring the little Boswellia carteri tree lost its leaves, at which time some tiny drops of resin oozed out along the leaf stems. I collected these drops and tasted them, which was the best and easiest way to evaluate them. They tasted and smelled exactly like frankincense oil. This is already way more that I had hoped for when I bought the tree as a curiosity.

I also have a 3-foot (1 meter) tall Commiphora tenuipetiolata tree that had started to branch out from the side of the trunk. One of my assistants bumped against it last fall and broke the branch partially off. A week or so later I noticed a blob of resin accumulation around the break. This tree is actually large enough to produce some significant resin, so that made me think that maybe I'll be able to harvest a little incense from my plants after all! There should at least be a few small drops that I can burn. I’m looking forward to having some frankincense, but it will be especially interesting to see what the resin of all of the different Commiphora species smells like. 

[All photos are mine]

No comments:

Post a Comment