It’s no surprise that freesias are favourite flowers, for many of us: these delicate, multi-coloured flowers smell so radiantly sweet and airy, with an almost nose-tingling freshness – and a hint of citrus in there somewhere, too.
Yet try as they might, perfumers have never been able to capture the scent of freesias. As perfumer Alienor Massenet explains, ‘Freesia in perfumery is an imaginary reconstitution – but the smell is gorgeous.’ So: it’s produced synthetically, adding a hint of green sweetness – and airiness – to fragrance creations. Alienor adds: ‘It’s smells like tea, actually.’ Freesia works perfectly to complement lily of the valley, peony, magnolia, but is rarely the shining star of a perfume itself.
Freesias get their name from a German doctor, from Kiel in Germany – Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (1795-1876). A plant collector (who went by the equally glorious German name Christian Friedrich Ecklon) honoured his friend by calling the flower (which originated in Africa) ‘freesia’.
We love this quote about freesias that we first found on the perfume website Fragrantica, meanwhile.
‘The happiness of that afternoon was already fixed in her mind, and always would the scent of freesia return it to her mental sight, for among the roses and violets and lilies and wall-lowers, the smell of freesia penetrated, as a melody stands out from its accompaniment, and gave her the most pleasure.’ (Hugh de Sélincourt wrote that, in The Way Things Happen.)
Freesia notes contain a certain amount of linalool, which is a known sensitiser (and listed on perfume packaging as a caution to the sensitive).
Smell freesia in: