Labdanum, also called ladanum or ladan, is a sticky brown resin obtained from the shrubs Cistus ladanifer (western Mediterranean) and Cistus creticus (eastern Mediterranean), species of rockrose. It has a long history of use in herbal medicine and as a perfume ingredient.In ancient times, labdanum was collected by combing the beards and thighs of goats and sheep that had grazed on the cistus shrubs.Wooden instruments used were referred to in 19th-century Crete as ergastiri;a lambadistrion ("labdanum-gatherer") was a kind of rake to which a double row of leathern thongs were fixed instead of teeth.These were used to sweep the shrubs and collect the resin which was later extracted. It was collected by the shepherds and sold to coastal traders. Many of the false beards worn by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt were made of goats' hair which was held together by labdanum.
The resin was also used to treat colds, coughs, menstrual problems and rheumatism.Labdanum is produced today mainly for the perfume industry. absolute is also obtained by solvent extraction. An essential oil is produced by steam distillation. The raw gum is a black (sometimes dark brown), fragrant mass containing up to 20% or more of water. It is plastic but not pourable, and becomes brittle with age. The absolute is dark amber-green and very thick at room temperature. The fragrance is more refined than the raw resin. The odour is very rich, complex and tenacious. Labdanum is much valued in perfumery because of its resemblance to ambergris, which has been banned from use in many countries because its precursor originates from the sperm whale, which is an endangered species.
Labdanum is the main ingredient used when making the scent of amber in perfumery. Labdanum's odour is variously described as amber, animalic, sweet, woody, ambergris, dry musk, or leathery.Labdanum is a rich brown resin sourced from the cistus shrubs of the species rockrose. This sticky resin is used since the ancient times as a natural remedy and perfume ingredient.
Back in the past, the resin was used to treat various ailments such as menstrual problems, rheumatism, and common colds. Today, the resin is mainly used in the perfume industry and obtained by boiling the leaves and twigs, by solvent extraction, or steam distillation.
Most modern labdanum is sourced in Spain, on the borders of Spain and Portugal,but in Spain's territory. Labdanum's odor profile is highly complex. Often compared to amber, it is a balsam-like and slightly musty scent in its raw form, with woody, earthy, smoky, marshy and even honey and plum undertones. Prized for its rich, sweet and vegetal mossy aroma, it is commonly used in modern perfumery to render leather or ambergris notes.
Labdanum is one of the most important product on a perfumers list , its odour is invaluable for certain formulations. Its use can hardly be restricted to any area except floral accords. A wonderful fixative.
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