But in truth, the tuberose used in perfumery nowadays is often a synthetic copy – not just because of the price, but because through manipulating the aroma particles, it’s possible to bring out tuberose’s creaminess, or its more ‘camphor’-like side. Reminscent of jasmine, gardenia and orange blossom, tuberose is often blended alongside those other white flowers.)
The Polianthes tuberose plant is related to the lily – you can almost tell that, from smelling it. (Do please completely ignore the word ‘rose’ in its name.)
Known as ‘the carnal flower’ (Roja Dove also calls it ‘the harlot of perfumery’), tuberose’s blooms are so powerful that just a few stems can fill a room with their headiness, pumping out their scent for days or even weeks.
In Victorian times, tuberose symbolised ‘dangerous pleasure’ and voluptuousness – and that’s pretty much what perfumers are aiming for, when they use it. In India, meanwhile, it’s known for its aphrodisiac powers (young women are advised not to breathe its scent, after dark.) Innocent, tuberose most definitely is not…