Saturday, September 06, 2008

Living White Chocolate Perfume

White Chocolate Flower, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Here comes another tropic botanical mystery: these incredibly large and beautiful and almost champaca-looking flowers which possess a most unutual and non-floral white-chocolate & vanilla fragrance. A little urban forest of those thorny-trunk tropical trees grows just by my grandmother's house in Southeast Tel-Aviv and serves as a contrast to the otherwise foul street smells which intensify in the heat.

The flowers develop into a quite large green fruit that pops open to reveal a pulp that is everything but juicy: it looks like beige cottonwool and is fuzzy and soft.
I stuck one of those and a plumeria flower in my hair the other day and it's the best (and literally living) perfume imaginable. Sometimes it pays off not to take too many of your own artificial perfumes when traveling!

The Thorns of a White Chocolate Tree, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

P.s. Help me find the identity of this plant and I will send you a little edible treat from Israel...!

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At September 06, 2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The thorns on the trunk and the fibrous "fruit" give it away, even though the exact species I'm proposing may be a tad off - it's a Ceiba, of he Bombax/Bombaceae family. They all have thorns on the trunk and the fibers are made into lovely textiles and clothing. The vanilla/chocolate scent tells me it may be a Ceiba schottii variety. The flowers are very similar, but a tad different. Flowers of the Ceiba/Bombax can vary greatly in color and shape - some look like exploding pink or red powderpuffs.

For an exact ID, you can call a local university where they offer urban planning or landscape architecture - they'll probably know. There are hundreds of varieties of Ceiba, and they would be the best source of the local knowledge.

At September 06, 2008 4:32 PM, Blogger ScentScelf said...

Oh, boy, you've got me searching high and low...I keep on coming back to acacias (including one false acacia which is actually a kind of honeylocust, but seems to be native to North America, which means the Israel location is not likely).

Still searching...but thanks for the fun! Your pictures have been most delightful, btw.

At September 06, 2008 7:06 PM, Blogger ScentScelf said...

I had ruled out bombax because of geography...the source I found limited it to Africa (not so far from Israel, of course). Looks like Anya has a better handle on it...


At September 07, 2008 5:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Scentscelf, it's definitely a bonbax/ceiba. They are distributed around the world. Many grow here in Florida, but not the variety shown in the pics - some need a drier climate that we have here. The Ceiba schottii is known for having the vanillin component of the chocolate scent. The final word is going to be the particular variety - there may be dozens, so a local expert will be needed to ID it.

At September 07, 2008 5:28 AM, Blogger ScentScelf said...

Cool. Here in the Great Lakes region, I have not had a "bombaxtic" experience (ergh, sorry). Appreciate the learning opportunity, as always--thanks both to you and Ayala for that!

At September 11, 2008 6:27 AM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

And now I can say I have learned something new today. Great!!

At September 25, 2008 7:24 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thanks to everybody for the guesses and information. I did not have time for contacting the Dept. of Plant Science at Tel Aviv University but I will do it via email and will report once I hear back from them. I will probably have to send them maple syrup rather than an Israeli treat though ;)


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