Tantalizing Tuberose

By Lisa Maliga
Copyright 2002-2016

tuberose soap 12 easy melt and pour soap recipes
Tuberose Soap

Most flowers begin to lose their scent when they are picked. Not with tuberose! Like jasmine, the heady floral scent continues to produce itself. Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is native to Central America. Aztec healers called it omixochitl (bone-flower) due to the waxy, luminous white flowers that actually contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Tuberose may grow wild in Mexico and surrounding countries, but the cultivation of tuberose is usually in Morocco, the Comores Islands, France, Hawaii, South Africa, India, and China.

For the Gardener

The tuberose grows in elongated spikes that produce clusters of aromatic white flowers. They can be grown outdoors in warm climates. Tuberoses flourish in sunny places and bloom in late summer. After the last frost, plant your tuberoses in a sunny spot, beneath a couple of inches of soil and almost a foot apart. Fertilize and water regularly.

If you pot and grow tuberose indoors, keep at a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Potted bulbs take about four to five months to bloom.

Tuberose in Hawaii

For millions of tourists who have been to Hawaii, the first scent to greet their nostrils has been that of the offered tuberose leis. The ancient tradition for a Hawaiian wedding is for the bride and groom to wear flowers. The groom wears a maile lei, which is a native Kauai plant, while the bride wears a wreath of tuberose and pikaki flowers around her head called a haku. The custom is still popular as a part of a time-honored Hawaiian wedding ceremony.

If you’re interested in purchasing tuberose bulbs from Hawaii, contact Paradise Flowers at: http://www.ParadiseFlowers.com. You can also order tuberose leis, bouquets, and hakus too!

The Power of Tuberose

The legend of the tuberose in France warns that young girls should not breathe in its fragrance after dark for fear that it would put them in a romantic mood. In India, tuberose is known as rat ki rani, (The Mistress of the Night) for similar reasons. In Ayurvedic medicine, attars are held in high esteem not only for their exquisite fragrance, but their healing properties. Tuberose is known to improve one’s capacity for emotional depth. By opening the crown chakra it improves psychic powers. Tuberose also amplifies artistic inspiration as it stimulates the creative right side of the brain. And it brings serenity to the mind and heart. Maybe these reasons are why tuberose essential oil is so expensive!

More expensive than most rose attars, pure tuberose essential oil is difficult to find. “If you want to be precise, there is no ‘essential oil’ of tuberose. The flowers won’t stand up to the high temperature of water/steam distillation. Therefore a solvent, usually hexane, is used. Solvent extracted oils are absolutes. Some aromatherapists will not use them, as they believe there are traces of the solvent in the oil, even if only on a vibrational level. I disagree with this in general, and use absolutes quite often, however, it is case by case, as I often will choose to use only distilled oils in a blend.” Trygve Harris, Enfleurage, New York City.

“But this is where phytol enters center stage…the product of the amazing Phytonics process, conceived and developed by Peter Wilde in England. Phytonics uses low pressure, involves no heat and uses a solvent which is recyclable; it produces an essential oil that requires no additional processing unlike other concretes and, remarkably, does not emit by-products that damage the endangered ozone layer.” Eva-Marie Lind, Dean of the Aromatherapy Department of the Australasian College of Herbal Studies.

Make Your Own Tuberose Soap

As listed above, you can buy tuberose online at Enfleurage. It’s available as a jojoba-based roll-on perfume and the pure absolute is sold in small sizes. However, if you want to make tuberose soap for only a few dollars, you can do so by using tuberose floral wax. If you’d like the recipe, check out my eBook 12 Easy Melt and Pour Soap Recipes.

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Confessions of a Fragrance Fanatic

By Lisa Maliga

© 2008 – 2013

I attended a flower festival at the age of four and my mom couldn’t keep me from trying to sniff all the fresh and fragrant blooms. When it came to food, I didn’t taste first; I used my impressionable sense of smell. The beef stew always got an unhappy sniff, while anything dessert like was allowed to linger, appreciated by my fussy sense of smell.

My quest for the simplest yet most compelling scent of all, vanilla, led me from the avenue of pure aromatherapy grade essential oils into the streets of synthetic fragrances. I had found a marvelous vanilla absolute from Madagascar but when my supplier vanished, I was left minus the sensuous aroma that I adored.

I ordered my first vanilla fragrance oil [commonly referred to as an f.o.]. When it arrived, I opened the bottle and took a hesitant whiff. Surprised, I took another, longer sniff of the vanilla f.o. It smelled like vanilla, no question about that! The cost was kinder on my credit card, and the amount was larger, too. But what happened when it was poured into a batch of soap? Would it hold up in my new concoction of oils that were blended into whipped shea butter or melt and pour soap? I’d read of scents smelling great out of the bottle [OOB] but turning into something quite different when added to bath & body products.

The world of aromatherapy is comprised of scents that originate directly from plants and their various parts: flowers, roots, fruit, bark, or leaves. If you buy a bottle of lavender essential oil [abbreviated as e.o.’s] from a reputable source you will find it has four attributes listed on the label: country of origin, Latin [botanical] name, part of plant used, and method of distillation. [Cold pressed, steam distilled, etc.]. Highly principled suppliers will even provide a fifth element, the principal constituents in classifying their essential oils. I was accustomed to this type of information readily provided for me. When I saw that plain brown glass container with just the words “Vanilla fragrance” and the supplier’s name and address, I knew I had taken my first shaky steps down Fragrance Street.

Tuberose absolute, $200 per oz., was another costly floral that I wanted to add to my list of favorites. This white flower’s petals were so delicate that their sweet aromas were removed in a process that involved solvents, classifying it as an absolute, rather than a pure essential oil. Still, an absolute was superior to a mere fragrance. I decided to try a tuberose fragrance for a few dollars an ounce and when it arrived, along with some buddies doing impersonations of rose, jasmine and sandalwood, I was in a state of nasal bliss. The tuberose resembled those fragrant white buds, and the other florals sung a sincere imitation of their live counterparts. Sandalwood from India or even Australia was beyond my means [back then] but the sandalwood f.o. was reputed to contain Indonesian sandalwood e.o. and so it was somewhat natural.

bridal bouquet glycerin soap honeysuckle tuberose jasmine white florals lisa maliga everythingshea
Bridal Bouquet Glycerin Soap ~ Tantalizing aromas of sensuous white florals such as tuberose, honeysuckle, gardenia and jasmine.

Blending became another passion that was easily indulged with less costly fragrances. I made my first sandalwood-rose combination and came up with more blending ideas, including a few citrus essential oils that I had bought. I searched the library and the ‘net to find ideas and soon had pages of notes of what fragrances were able to be combined to create layers of scents. From fleeting top notes such as neroli [orange blossom] and lemon to middle notes that would involve longer lasting scents like lilac and sweet pea to the deeper and sultriest notes such as vanilla and patchouli. Perfumery was based on music and a perfumer was considered the conductor.

While I wasn’t a perfumer, I bought fragrance duplications, a/k/a dupes. I soon amassed a supply of impressive dupes to store in my kitchen cupboard: Chanel, Thierry Mugler, Guerlain, Bvlgari, Burberry, Viktor & Rolf, and Vera Wang. Also filling my shadowy [essential oils and fragrances needed to be stored in a cool, dark place] storeroom were imitations of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret scents. My fixation on various fruits like mango, coconut, pineapple, banana, and several berry scents were being stocked in an expanding collection of alphabetically ordered scents. The fruity phase morphed into desserts and now I had calorie-free chocolate, variations of vanilla, brown sugar, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon bun scents.

It’s confirmed, I’m a fragrance fanatic!

You can read more about fragrance and essential oils in The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting.