Ask the Perfumer forum and Tropical Lilac! 12/8/2013

by | Dec 8, 2013 | Anya's Garden Perfumes | 6 comments

I’ll be here until 10 tonight to answer your perfumery questions, and taking time out to play with the velvety, highly-scented *leaves* of the tropical lilac plant I found yesterday. I’ve been searching online for a long time for it, and accidentally stumbled across it when I went to buy a elderberry plant Friday.

cornutia grandifolia tree

Cornutia grandifolia trained as a tree. Source trees454blog

I was looking at the Everglades cherry tomato plants (another one I’ve lusted after for some time!) and saw these pots with huge, velvety leaves. The nursery didn’t mention the plant as available on their website. Their garden helper didn’t know the name of the plant, esp. the botanical name I used. Finally, after I had him load it into my cart, and I was paying, I remembered tropical lilac or jamaican lilac, and he said “yes, yes,” which confirmed what I already knew.

See how pretty those flowers are, and how they resemble lilac flowers (Syringia spp?). Well, it’s not the scent of them that’s of interest to the perfumer. The leaves, which are the size of an adult’s hand, and velvety, have a gorgeous aroma! They smell like a bit of phenolic zing, a touch of mint, and ambery, balsamic tobacco. Swoon!

cornutia grandifolia leaves and flowers closeup

A closeup of the flower panicle and the huge, velvety leaves. Source (who, sadly, has never had it in stock all the years I’ve been checking).

The plant is very carefree in growth, and doesn’t have many pests or diseases, which is a boon to the organic gardener. It can be grown as a hedge, and will grow up to ten feet. It takes pruning and is easy to make cuttings from. Also, the seeds germinate easily. I’ll be sharing cuttings and seeds as soon as my two-foot tall plant grows :-)

I hope my joy and happiness is coming through! I don’t know why this plant isn’t grown more here, perhaps it’s just out of style? Wouldn’t you love to grow it as an annual in your northern gardens? It would be a great conversation piece, and give much delight with the velvety, scented leaves.


  1. Eileen

    Lol! I thought it was the flower. I watched a youtube video and the host was showing how to infuse Lilac flower for perfume. Leaves carries fragrance. Are they many perfume with this frangrance?

  2. Rae Lynn Reffruschinni

    It’s beautiful! I’m glad you found it.

  3. Lorenna Sparling

    Where in Miami did you go? I’d love to go garden shopping ,too.

  4. Angie

    Love it can’t wait to play with it in the distillation process and will have to take you up on a cutting :) Wohoo !


    I read that your cuttings of Jamaican Lilac take very well.What is your secret? I’ve tried with mine three times…..young pieces. Any hints?

  6. S. Camp

    Are you still looking for the tiny Everglades tomatoes?


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