Polianthes tuberosa doesn't have any botanical or olfactory relation to roses, despite the name. This small white blossom flowering plant is its own thing, a "white floral" (in the same class as jasmine and orange blossom) with an intensity and creaminess beyond any other: Though the scent can be likened to that of orange blossom and gardenia, tuberose has interesting facets of camphor in the opening (comparable to - but not quite that green - as budding gardenias), of dewy mushroom and earth when in bloom and then of rot and bloody meat when browning. Buttery, rubbery and even metallic facets also emerge if one searches for them. The natural blossoms are so powerful they can fill a room and continue to exude their scent for days after picking.
The tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial plant related to the agaves, extracts of which are used as a middle note in perfumery. The common name derives from the Latin tuberosa, meaning swollen or tuberous in reference to its root system. Polianthes means "many flowers" in Greek. In Mexican Spanish the flower is called nardo or vara de San José, which means ‘St. Joseph’s staff’.
The tuberose is a night-blooming plant thought to be native to Mexico along with every other species of Polianthes. It grows in elongated spikes up to 45 cm (18 in) long that produce clusters of fragrant waxy white flowers that bloom from the bottom towards the top of the spike. It has long, bright green leaves clustered at the base of the plant and smaller, clasping leaves along the stem.Members of the closely related genus Manfreda are often called "tuberoses". In the Philippines, the plant is also known as azucena, and while once associated with funerals it is now used in floral arrangements for other occasions.Tuberose foliage has grassy foliage, similar in appearance to daylilies. Each stem can bear a dozen or more white blooms, which may remain closed if the heat is particularly stifling.
True to its agave heritage, the flowers are slightly waxy, offering protection against desiccation, but the blooms can still shrivel in direct sun when temperatures are 95 degrees F or greater. If this sounds typical of your summers, plant the bulbs where they will receive some afternoon shade.In northern climates, tuberoses may not bloom until the latter part of August, but you can start the bulbs indoors in early spring to give them a head start. However, the bulbs are easy to start outdoors, if you’re patient enough to wait three to four months for the first blooms:Plant them in soil with good drainage in a sunny location.Space the bulbs six inches apart, and cover them with two inches of soil. Make sure the bulbs get a weekly drink, either through rain or irrigation.
No note in perfumery is more surprisingly carnal, creamier or contradicting than that of tuberose. The multi-petalled flower is a mix of flower shop freshness and velvety opulence. Which is why it is the perennial polarizing flower note having as many ardent fans as passionate detractors. The Victorians must have been among the latter: they forbade young girls of inhaling the scent of tuberose in the fear they might have a spontaneous orgasm! Roja Dove is right when he says that tuberose is really loose, the "harlot of perfumery".
Tuberose Absolute is used—when available and when the cost allows for such extravagance-in high-class floral perfumes of the heaviest and sweetest types: frangipanni, stephanotis, caprifolium, lilac, heliotrope, gardenia, violet, and in
heavy Oriental types, opopanax, in fantasy perfumes,etc. With an annual world production measured in kilos and never in tons, and being one of the most expensive of all perfume materials, One of the most Famous and Technically Brilliant owes its success to Tuberose namely "Poison" by C Dior. And ever since then the usage of this material has been increasing steadily.