Related to jonquil and daffodil, Paperwhite narcissus carries a rich jasmine scent with the nosefeel of butter. Stiff, like overwhipped cream. Being in the Amaryllidaceae family, paperwhites overlap with both heliotrope in their powdery marzipan and cherry pie scent, and with fragrant violets in their powdery sweet-ink perfume. In terms of their animalic odor, whereas the aromatic habitat of parma violets (Viola alba) is ambergris's brown rocks-- a sunny beach territory that is warm and dry, paperwhites emit a watery "poo" fragrance that is frequently generalized and mischaracterized as "musky". They can smell swampy, pond-like, and even of sewage, but they rarely smell like pure "musk" as do clary sage and Nicotiana flowers. Violets are cool and dry, while paperwhites' humor is cool and wet, like mucus. Paperwhites are often likened to jasmine because they are both indolic flowers. An aromatic heterocyclic organic compound, indole smells like feces and it naturally occurs in coal tar as well as in human feces. It is also present in a number of flowers. Now, members of the Jasminum species seldom possess the aquatic notes of paperwhites. Jasmine's juiciness comes from fresh fruit notes like pear, apple, apricot and plum flesh. Paperwhites display a fruit aroma that is muted and confectionary, like candied cherries and fondant. Their dessert sweetness is tempered by the previously mentioned sewage. This character prevents this daffodil from being categorized as a "gourmand" flower like heliotrope, carnation, dianthus and phlox. Back to indole: this is where paperwhites and jasmines part ways once again. Jasmine's indolic smell is anal and specifically excremental with the energy of lightning. Meanwhile the funk of paperwhite is sluggish, and indeterminate, residing somewhere between the urethra and the perineum, with a lazy smear of meconium. Again the watery notes are kind of filmy and share similarities with the odor and growing habit of waterlilies. Perhaps I am projecting onto them synaesthetically because they can be forced without soil, requiring only rocks and water. Growing them like this gives their roots a slimy look like the membranes on vegetables when the water gets cloudy.
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Copyright 2021 Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.