Jasminum polyanthum. Many-flowered jasmine. Winter jasmine. Pink jasmine.
Native to: Myanmar, China.
The scent of Jasminum polyanthum is so creamy, white-green, and fluffy that it seems less like a jasmine and more like a mix of sandalwood (Santalum spp.) and star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides-- not a true jasmine). The base is buttery like sandalwood, without being oily, as if butter had no fat. The flower's lush dreaminess is similary to the warm amber humidity of star jasmine, but drier. Star jasmine has a wet scent with more body, transporting you to a rainforest, while J. polyanthum's perfume takes place on a soft tropical beach with sand so bleached and uniform in grain size that you cannot pick out the coral from the shells. Like plumeria, it borders on suntan lotion with its anti-gourmand milkiness (lotion). And other Jasminum species (grandiflorum and sambac) have a vibrant nectar note bulging between peach and beaujolais. J. polyanthum smells less vibrant and more feathery. Its fragrance is the cockatoo of jasmines. Indolic fecal fecundity is absent. It smells green, young, immature. It has blossomed without ripening. Unlike J. nitidum and laurifolium (angel wing jasmines), it doesn't have the "extra sharp," non-fruity indolic edge that is striking in the angel wing types. Adding to its childlike impression, there is something very nostalgic about J. polyanthum and redolent of a Tonka corporation children's toy from the 1980s: Keypers. The pastel Keypers were made in the shapes of animals (snail, horse, turtle, swan, ladybug) and their pliable plastic bodies had a distinct smell. It was less sweet than the smell of Cabbage Patch dolls, less plasticky than (the unscented) My Little Ponies or Barbies. The Keypers had the faded aroma of a vague flower. Jasminum polyanthum has the same powdery, fluffy scent, but much more concentrated. Sometimes people say they would prefer not to wear carnal smelling perfumes to work or in public-- these are usually compositions heavy in jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, musks, and animalics. Undoubtedly these are the notes associated with human, animal, and botanical sexualities. I always think it is funny when adults deem perfumes without floral sex organs on display as more appropriate to wear in public, and the more adult scents "obscene." It seems like olfactory catfishing to me, or like dressing as a child. When the obscene thing might actually be dousing oneself in prepubescent drag (no judgment). Because it is less candied, I hesitate to place J. polyanthum among the more childlike, prudish, and sugary Victorian flowers: phlox, carnation, dianthus, heliotrope. To me polyanthum is more along the lines of Bette Davis as Baby Jane than as the baby Baby Jane: the jasmine that dresses like a child.
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Copyright 2021 Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.