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Although hawthorn is no longer widely consumed, its phytotherapeutic virtues and the delicate aromas of its flowers continue to inspire creators who seek to design a perfumed note that mirrors its gentle, powdery essence, in order to enhance beautiful floral and oriental compositions.
Hawthorn: The Small, Venerable Wild Rose
Hawthorn, known for its remarkable longevity, has been associated with various beliefs since antiquity. Its branches were used to protect against storms, and the plant was thought to be a favored nesting spot for birds. Hawthorn is also linked to a Gaelic legend associated with May 1st, where hanging a branch on the doors of stables and barns would prevent witch spiders from entering.
Regardless of whether it is valued for its berries, mysterious powers, or delicate and sweet floral scent, hawthorn is a well-known plant typical of temperate climates that has been cherished across different eras. As a result, perfumers took an interest in hawthorn to create a floral and voluptuous note in beautiful floral compositions.
Hawthorn Notes in Perfume: Anisic Aldehyde and Guerlain
Since hawthorn does not yield an essential oil, it was necessary to create a synthetic molecule that replicates its floral and wild scent. Anisic aldehyde was developed for this purpose.
Guerlain was reportedly the first to use anisic aldehyde to reproduce hawthorn in their perfume Après l'Ondée in 1906. This delicate, powdery flower aimed to recreate the unique aromas of a slightly damp blooming garden just after a summer rain. Guerlain crafted a poetic and nuanced perfume, blending citrus and orange blossom with the floral and powdery heart notes of hawthorn, iris, violet, and orchid, before concluding with a deep and vanilla base of sandalwood and benzoin. Après l'Ondée remains a beloved fragrance among discerning noses.
The 2000s saw a resurgence of hawthorn's delicate scent in fragrances like Flower by Kenzo, Emporio Night Her by Armani, and Ocean Blue by Escada. Sometimes featured as a top note and sometimes as a heart note, hawthorn harmonizes with fruits, marine notes, citrus, and pink pepper to offer its soft and powdery essence. In Chanel's Beige, hawthorn's top note is combined with ylang-ylang and then with honeyed white flowers.
Hawthorn is particularly versatile in floral fragrances with numerous nuances, as its floral and powdery facets are easy to match and function effectively as a scent fixative. It also appears in some oriental compositions, where it contributes a light and airy quality, contrasting with musk or patchouli. Some woody masculine scents employ hawthorn to soften and powder the fragrance with a touch of floral notes.