May 27, 2017

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Do You Know Why Flowers Produce Scent?

Aubergine dahlia.

There’s nothing quite as heavenly as walking into a room full of gorgeous fresh flowers or enjoying the scent of a natural aromatherapy candle releasing its floral bouquet.  Equally, visiting a beautifully manicured park, sitting in a pretty floral garden or picnicking in an unspoiled meadow full of wild flowers is a magical experience of delicious fragrance that cannot be matched by manmade or artificial aromas.  Bearing the above in mind, have you ever wondered why flowers produce their intoxicating scent? Why is it that some flowers have a very strong smell whereas others barely emit fragrance?  Of course, you know it’s to attract pollinators but there are other reasons too.  Let Petits Rituels give you some insight into the world of flower scents.

The Nectaries

Fun Fact! Scientists have found 1,700 different fragrances produced by flowers and 100 produced by plants.  These scents come from the flower’s nectaries. These are the glands of flowers and plants that produce nectar, a sugary-sweet liquid that intoxicates and attracts bees, butterflies, moths or other pollinators in order to reproduce. 

Butterfly-on-red-daisy

The nectaries are responsible for producing each flower’s own scents.  Some nectaries are positioned inside certain flowers whereas others are external.  Nectaries that produce natural chemical fragrances are normally positioned right inside the flower at the bottom of the male stamen.  

Bee-nectar.

So, flowers release their fragrance from their nectaries to attract pollinators and as a reward, those pollinators are given nectar, which also comes from the nectaries. 

Flowers Communicate

Some scientists believe that the fragrance flowers and plants release isn’t only for pollination, it’s also to communicate with other flowers, believe it or not!  For example, if an “enemy” insect attacks a plant, they can release unpleasant nectar to tackle the problem and other plants/flowers tune into the ambush so emit the same nectar.  Yes, flowers are very clever.  We also know that some flowers and plants release fragrance that only attracts certain insects to make sure their species is pollinated.

French Lavender flowers.

No Two Flowers Are The Same!

While flower families such as roses, dahlias, marigolds etc. may look the same, every single flower emits its own individual scent because of its nectar’s make-up.  Each is ever so slightly different from its sister – so no two roses smell exactly the same, although you might not be able to tell the difference.  However sometimes you can tell the difference. You might smell a flower and then smell its neighbour of the same species and notice that one is more powerful than the other. 

Different Species Attract Different Pollinators

It’s also interesting that different species attract different insects.  For example, sweet-smelling flowers such as roses and lavender attract bees whereas strong, musky flowers such as chrysanthemums attract beetles! 

Bees-foxglove.

Some Flowers Produce Scent At Night

Did you also know that some flowers only produce scent at night fall?  That’s because they want to attract moths and bats.  They give off a very strong scent because they can’t be seen during the nightlight and need to be noticed.  These types of flowers want certain animals and insects to pollinate and interestingly, bats have evolved especially to reach the nectar deep inside these flowers. These types of flowers open their blooms at night and you’ll notice they are larger than daytime flowers.  They are also usually paler in colour so they can be seen in moonlight, for example, Evening Primrose, Night Gladiolus and Night Lilies.

Jasmin-at-night

Older Flowers Are More Fragranced

If you’ve ever wondered why young flowers produce less scent than older flowers it’s because they're not ready to fully function so they produce less fragrance therefore they’re less attractive to pollinators. Older flowers are abundant in nectar and fragrance so attract pollinators in greater number.

Are Flowers Losing Their Scent?

Sadly they are. In recent times scientists have debated whether some flowers are losing their scent because of the environment we live in.  We know from a study at the University Of Virginia that flowers are greatly affected because the air toxic with dangerous chemicals, industrial fumes, petrol fumes and smoking affecting their environment.  These toxins impact on natural floral fragrance because they are so strong; therefore they diminish the scent that comes from nectaries.  This makes it very difficult for pollinators to locate flowers and this is harming our natural environment.

Finally…

It’s so important for everyone to think about keeping the air as clean as possible and stay aware of toxic fumes.  Little things such as only using natural products and reducing the amount of chemicals sprayed into the air will make all the difference.  This is another reason why I am so passionate about Petits Rituels products. I only use natural ingredients, I source the best possible high-grade organic essential oils and my candle wax is the purest soya wax.  The fragrances my candles and wax melts produce are reminiscent of beautiful, lush, floral gardens, bouquets of gloriously colourful flowers, wondrous spices and also the sweetness of fresh fruit.  They are completely safe to use and their aromatherapy properties ensure that all of my Petits Rituels customers truly immerse themselves in delicious, luxurious scent.


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