Tazetta fragrance

Jamie jamievande@freenet.de
Tue, 23 Dec 2003 10:23:03 PST
Jane has made a fun and interesting point; just what do people find pleasant
smelling?  I recently saw a program covering research in this area, and,
indeed, perception varies greatly.  Part may well be cultural, or at least
thereby influenced, but research has shown that females are particularly
sensitive to certain scents, which are used in selecting a mate.
Apparently, females of our species are capable of detecting certain scents
that are herditary in nature, which allows them to select a mate that is not
gentically closely related!  This same perception becomes a trap in the
modern world, as, when a female is pregnant, her sense of smell perception
favours related males, which is thought to be a protective mechanism,
surrounding ones self with like-minded distant relatives to protect the
common gene pool.  Unfortunately, birth control medications create a "false"
pregnancy and thereby change the perception to scent.  The modern female
finds themselves interested in genetically close males under the influence
of this false pregnany, only to reject the same males as soon as they stop
taking the medication!  A bit oversimplified, yes, but perhaps another
reason for unstable relationships in a modern world.

I, personally, am attracted to almost all fragrances to some degree, mostly
out of curiosity.  Doesn't mean I would wear them.  Some irises are so
pungent they are unbearable in a closed room, while jasmine is so sweet many
feel nausea in it's presence.  I love cilantro (fresh coriander leaves), but
most of my German friends turn their noses up!  Roses have so many
intriguing notes it's like trying to read a symphony, while Hemerocallis are
all pretty subtle favouring the citrus with a touch of spice.

For those who are wondering, via research, the established as most repulsive
scent is that of rotting meat!  It will induce vomiting with just a whiff.
Apparently a protective reaction against fouled food.

Scent is much more important to the natural world than we generally assume.
Even insects find their flowers via scent.  Birds do not, they use colour.
White flowers are almost always scented and pollinated via insects.  If the
flower is red, you can count on a hummingbird and no fragrance.

Just some more tid-bits.....

Jamie Vande

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jane McGary" <janemcgary@earthlink.net>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 3:26 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Tazetta fragrance

> Bill Lee wrote,
> The olfactory receptors in individuals seem to vary on this scent. I have
> >never found any tazetta fragrance to be unpleasant, yet I know some
> >who
> >have. My observation is that it is at least partially a gender
> >with
> >more women finding some of them unpleasant than men.
> The different wild subspecies of Narcissus tazetta, in some systems
> considered separate species, definitely have differing fragrances. One
> I particularly like is N. pachybolbus (or N. t. subsp. p.), and N.
> panizzianus is also pleasing, even though I dislike some of the commercial
> "paperwhites" in this respect. I am now growing some seedlings of
> wild-collected N. tazetta subsp. tazetta and will find out in a year or so
> how they smell.
> In perfumers' terms, I think of the unpleasant component of some Narcissus
> tazetta odors as "musky." Many hyacinth cultivars develop this smell as
> flowers age. Traditionally, musky fragrances are thought of in various
> cultures as erotically stimulating.This family of fragrances is apparently
> enjoyed by many people, for I often find myself in an airplane or elevator
> with someone (male or female) wearing a musky fragrance that he or she
> obviously thinks is wonderful, and that makes me gag. I'm not "allergic"
> perfumes and enjoy many of them, however.
> This may be one of the taste/odor groups that people really do perceive
> differently, and it would be understandable that the sexes would have
> different reactions to different scents that might remind one of
> associated with one or the other sex. However, individuals, aside from
> gender, are known to perceive tastes/odors differently; for example, I
> read that about 25% of the US population are much more sensitive to bitter
> tastes than the other 75% are, which explains why some of us can't stand
> "weed salad," hoppy beer, and oaky wines. Some people dislike the smell of
> elderflowers, but some (like me) enjoy it in moderation. Hamamelis mollis
> is also controversial; it is said to smell like a wet dog, but to me it
> smells like a nice clean wet dog, and I can stand it if not in a close
> room. Some people like the smell of Santolina or Eucalyptus foliage, which
> I can barely stand. Some flowers have an almost unclassifiable stench,
> Ferraria, which I no longer grow for that reason, though I do keep a lot
> Fritillaria agrestis on hand, even though it smells like dog droppings.
> "licorice" family of umbellifers -- licorice, fennel, caraway and so on --
> is another instance delightful to some and offensive to others. And then
> there's cilantro!
> Jane McGary
> Northwestern Oregon
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