Tasmania ‘the natural state’ is renowned throughout the world as one of the cleanest places on earth, boasting one of the last pristine temperate wilderness areas. Around 45% of Tasmania consists of reserves, national parks and world heritage sites. It is the destination for anyone wanting to experience the magnificence of nature and unique flora and fauna.
Tasmania is the place of dreams – a place people wish they could live, but due to low employment opportunities, most only get to experience the magic of Tasmania on holidays. I therefore consider myself incredibly lucky that I have the opportunity to live here and be inspired by Tasmania’s beauty in the creation of my natural perfumes. I could rave on forever about how amazing Tasmania is but I will now get to the main discussion point of this blog entry – a natural botanical perfumery ingredient that once again puts Tasmania on the world map, Boronia Absolute.
Boronia Absolute is produced from the flowers of a native shrub – Boronia megastigma (brown boronia). It is an evergreen shrub with intensely rich, fragrant flowers. How intense? INTENSE!! Yesterday I visited a local garden nursery to pick up some vegetable seedlings and seeds for my new veggie patch. As I was wandering through the nursery an amazing sharp, floral, tangy, zesty smell wafted my way. I stopped dead in my tracks, excitedly sniffing the air! I knew that smell! Following my nose I found a table holding around 7 plants – BORONIA!! I was beside myself with excitement. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, this is Tasmania after all! However, I have not actually seen and smelt the real plant before and have not as yet come across a nursery that had it in stock. I grabbed 3 of the plants like there was no tomorrow! The fragrance is amazing, smelling just like my boronia absolute at home! I carried my beloved boronia’s with me around the nursery as I gathered what I had actually gone there for, all the while their heavenly scent surrounding me. The car was filled with the intoxicating boronia aroma for the drive home and my lovely plants are currently sitting on a table outside delighting me with their fragrance each time I pass.
There are around 90 – 100 species of boronia. Boronia megastigma or brown boronia is the type that is used for the production of boronia absolute. They grow to about 1 meter x 1 meter and have delightful purple-brown bell shaped flowers with a striking yellow/lime green colour inside. I also chose a yellow boronia with yellow bell shaped flowers, still fragrant but not as intensely fragrant as the brown boronia. Apparently they can be difficult to grow, tending to be fast growing and short lived – not particularly good news for a non green thumb such as myself!
The shrubs are commercially grown in a number of locations throughout Tasmania – around 12 plantations are located in the North and East of Tasmania, totalling around 45 hectares. The flowers are mechanically harvested between August and October each year. The concrete is produced from the open flowers by non-chlorinated solvent extraction. Traditional alcohol extraction of the concrete produces the absolute. There are around 150 chemical constituents that naturally occur in Boronia, with beta-ionone and dodecyl acetate being the two main components contributing to the aroma. The aroma is typically described as an intensely rich and floral aroma with an initial opening of the natural green freshness of cassis and the character of ripening hay followed by exotic fruit undertones of yellow freesias and a woody dry-out. The persistency and intensity of the scent has made it highly valued in the perfumery world and is also used in the food industry as an addition to citrus and berry formulations.
There is only 1 producer here in Tasmania that I am aware of. The high demand and small supply makes boronia absolute an incredibly expensive, if not the most expensive, botanical perfumery ingredient in the world. The producer only sells to those capable of buying in large quantities – to then buy from these suppliers is very costly, a very recent quote for just 50 mls of absolute will set me back AUD$1750!!
For those who follow this blog, you’ll be aware that I make and sell 030 Orange Blossom and Boronia Natural Perfume – I occasionally worry that I won’t be able to secure enough boronia to keep making this perfume, but I guess that’s just the way it is sometimes.
At least I have my very own boronia shrubs for now and who knows, maybe I’ll work out how to extract my own boronia absolute – dreaming! : )
Have any of my readers ever seen and smelt real boronia? If so, what did you think of it?
Kerry Che x