The Natural Perfume Glossary compiled by Justine Crane & NPA

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An Absolute is a prepared perfume material. Absolutes are highly concentrated, entirely alcohol soluble and usually liquid perfume materials. They are obtained by alcohol extraction of concretes or other hydrocarbon types of extracts or from fat extracts of plant material.

[Pic: Jasmine concrete from Jasmine grandiflorum.]

Entry link: Absolute


(See Chord) Musical reference relating to a chord; usually two or more essences combined to create a scent with its own character and distinctive scent; harmonization and balance within a blend of essences.

Entry link: Accord


The intention of acquiring [a sale] through the devaluation of the oil in relation to the labeling of it's container. (Stephen Arctander)
Entry link: Adulteration

Agar oil

This oil is water-distilled from fungus-infected wood of the tree Aquilaria Agallocha, growing in northeastern India. The tree is also found in China and Vietnam. 

Entry link: Agar oil

Agleia Odorata

An essential oil distilled from the seeds of this tree which grows in India, Indonesia and China. The fragrant flowers are used in tea. 

Entry link: Agleia Odorata


Ajowan oil is steam distilled from the fruits, seeds and sometimes from the whole plant of Ptychotis Ajowan, also known as carum Ajowan or Carum Copticum. The plant is native to India and the West Indies. 

Entry link: Ajowan


perfume medium, diluent, solvent or carrier for a perfume composition; in natural perfumery, 190 proof organic grape or grain alcohol is preferred

Entry link: Alcohol

Almond bitter unrectified

Almond, bitter unrectified prunus amygdalus v. amara (toxic) – 3.0000% in perfume concentration

Entry link: Almond bitter unrectified


Warm, powdery note in a perfume composition, usually obtained through the combination of benzoin, labdanum, vanilla and other similar aromatic oils.

Entry link: Amber


Ambra is another name for Ambergris. Ambergris is excreted from the stomach of the cachalot whale (sperm whale). The Ambra is the result of a pathological condition caused by irritation of the whales stomach walls due to the whales ingestion of squid beaks. 

Entry link: Ambra

Ambrette Seed

Ambrette seeds come from the plant Hibiscus Abelmoschus. The essential oil is produced from the seed.  Also available is a solvent extraction or concrete, the absolute and also a tincture extract.  The material blends excellently with sandalwood, rose and neroli. Ambrette seed is known for its "exhalting" effect on perfume. 

Entry link: Ambrette Seed

Amyris Oil

Amyris oil is steam distilled from the wood of the Amyris Balsamifera tree, also called West Indian Rosewood.  It's odor is woody and sweet with peppery top note. 

Entry link: Amyris Oil

Anethum Sowa

Not often heard of in countries other than India and Japan. The essential oil is steam distilled from the fruit or seeds of a wild dill. The interesting thing is that the odor is different to the european dill and the american dill. The oil of Anethum Sowa is more parsley like compared to the european and us versions that is more like caraway. 

Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavors of Natural Origin 

Entry link: Anethum Sowa

Angelica root

Angelica root angelica archangelica 

Entry link: Angelica root

Angelica Root Absolute

This is produced by a two step process. First the root is broken down or ground and then extracted using hexane to produce a concrete. This is further extracted by alcoholic distillation. It has a musky woody odor that is heavy and sweet. It is earthy and also has a curious animalic note.  

Entry link: Angelica Root Absolute


usually refers to fecal, leathery and fur-like scents, such as hyraceum (hyrax/Africa Stone), ambergris, costus, nargarmotha, patchouli and civet; can have some connection to indolic botanical materials such as jasmine

Entry link: Animalic


Anise oil used in perfumery is extracted from the star anise. The oil usually comes from Poland or Russia. Funnily enough a lot of people say it has a licorice scent but this is due to it being used as a favouring for licorice (in the same way that people say vanilla has a chocolate smell) 

Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin

Entry link: Anise


the inability to smell

Entry link: Anosmia


monkey_tail_treeAraucaria is also named the Monkey puzzle tree. It is native to the south pacific. The essential oil which is solid at room temperature is steam distilled from the wood. The colour is a very pale yellow green colour. The odor is a delicate and clean woody odor. Steffen arctander describes it thus: "It's odor is delicately woody, but also rich and sweet (a rare combination) almost floral like nerolidol or cabreuva oil. It has notes in common with amyris oil, bois de rose, copaiba, good guaiacwood oil, and the sesquiterpene fractions from Java type citronella oil." 

Entry link: Araucaria


Arnica_montanaArnica is usually associated with herbal medicine but its oil has use as a perfumery material also. The oil is steam distilled from the flowers and it is difficult to procure. 

Country of origin is usually Germany, Belgium or France. 

It is described as a herbaceous tea-like and non floral note.

Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin.

Entry link: Arnica


strongly scented materials; specifically refers to rich, balsamic essences, but can be used to refer to nearly any deliciously scented botanical material

Entry link: Aromatic

Artabotrys Odoratissimus

Country of origin the Philippines and Indonesia. See: Ylang Ylang 

Entry link: Artabotrys Odoratissimus

Artabotrys Suaveolens

See: Ylang Ylang

Entry link: Artabotrys Suaveolens

Artemisia Alba

Artemisia AlbaArtemisia Alba is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean countries. The plant is a relative to the wormwood plant and it has the same silvery leaves. This oil has very green and bitter notes and may be useful in chypre and green perfumes. 

Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin  

Entry link: Artemisia Alba

Artemisia Annua

Artemisia AnnuaArtemisia Annua is native to Yogoslavia. It is the least inexpensive of the Artemsias due to it's high yield. It is used mainly as a perfuming material for soap. It has green basil like odor. 

Ref: Steffen Artander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin 

Entry link: Artemisia Annua


Sandalwood oil distilled over flowers or distillation of flowers into a receiver containing sandalwood oil

Entry link: Attar

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