Asafoetida comes from the dried taproot of Ferula asafoetida – note the word ‘foetid’ in the name, because it really does honk: strong and sulphurous, it’s known variously as ‘devil’s dung’, ‘stinking dung’, or (charmingly) in French, ‘merde de diable’ (devil’s poo).
It’s used in Indian cooking and also as a medicinal – not surprisingly, as a repellent. (It’s also, rather usefully, anti-microbial and anti-flatulant – though not in perfume!). Some people say it smells of onions or leeks; others, that it has a balsamy, resinous or even sweaty edge – but as with so many botanical ingredients, asafoetida can work magic when skilfully blended in perfumes: the teeniest of quantities acts as an ‘accenter’, to boost the power of other ingredients – including galbanum, which is widely-used in chypre scents, including Ma Griffe by Carven, and Pierre Balmain’s Vent Vert.
Smell asafoetida in:
L’Artisan Perfumer Premier