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Classifications of Fragrances in Flowers and Plants

Updated on November 11, 2012
Azaleas have a scent classified as Spicy.
Azaleas have a scent classified as Spicy. | Source

Flower gardening is a lovely hobby. The garden can be as elaborate or simple as you choose. One of the ways to plan your flower garden is by the scent of the flowers that will bloom on your plants. There are nice basic types of fragrance classifications used for flowering plants. It is possible to use this information to plan a flower garden that is not only pleasing to the eye, but to the nose, as well.

A fragrance that is found only in leaves that contain essential oils is called Balsamic. These oils are known as menthol, eucalyptol, balsam, camphor, and wintergreen. Some examples of this type of plant are mints, lavender, sages, rosemary, and wormwood.

Another classification of fragrance is Spicy. This scent is found in the leaves or flowers of the plants. It is often blended with the Heavy types. Or it is also possible to blend with one of the Balsamics, as well. Some plants that have spicy scents are carnations, pinks, azalea, fennel, and nasturtium.

There are several plants that have fragrances classified as Heavy. Most of them are recognizable as flowers with lovely scents used in perfumes and air fresheners. This type of scent is free and penetrating. It can be unpleasant if you are in a confined area with the plant. These scents are often blended with others in this grouping and other groups, as well. A few examples of this type of scent are produced by auratum lilies, jasmine, orange-blossoms, gardenias, jonquils, and cestrums.

The scent of a Heliotrope is classified as Sweet.
The scent of a Heliotrope is classified as Sweet. | Source

The scent classified as Sweet is found in many flowers, grasses, and ferns. It includes scents that have a gentle lightness through the sugariness of watermelon and on to the strength of honeysuckles. Some sweet-scented plants include vanilla, clover, fringe-tree, elder, honeysuckle, heliotrope, and crinum.

Possibly the largest scent group are those plants whose fragrance is classified as Honeyed. The group is so large it is divided into three sub-groups. The first group has a dry, musty, almondlike, sweet smell. Plants in the group include hawthorn and trailing arbutus. The second group has a yeasty smell, which goes from sweet to offensively strong. Plants in this sub-group include barberry, Oregon holly-grape, and broom. The last sub-group of the Honeyed scents has a musky, fermented, sweet odor. These plants include Bechtel's crabapple and hybrid musk roses.

A group that is comparible to Heavy but is more refined, is called Unique. This scent group is seldom blended with others. Some plants included in this group are lily-of-the-valley, sweet-pea, some irises, wisteria, and common lilac.

Some peonies are classified as rose scented.
Some peonies are classified as rose scented. | Source

A scent that is classified as Fruited, is found in either flowers or foliage of plants. This group is also large enough that it has been divided into four sub-divisions. The first is grapelike scented plants. These include grapes, grape-hyacinth, and the flowers of the box plant. The second group are pineapple-orange or mango scented plants. This group includes magnolia, broom, and polyanthus narcissus. The third group is nectarine, plum, peach, and apricot scented plants. This includes sweet-olive and hybrid tea roses. The last group is lemon and orange scented plants. Some of these plants are geraniums, lemon-verbena, and passion-flower.

The Violet scented plants are sometimes thought of as an extension of the Fruited groups. But, they have a fragrance that is pure and characteristic so as to not be mistaken. Some of these plants are the sweet violet and the Siberian crabapple.

Rose scented plants provide the fragrance for perfumes, rosewater, syrups, and confections. All flowering plants that contain the name rose are not included in this group. It is mostly comprised of the old Eurpoean garden plants and is also found in some root-woods. Some rose-scented plants include roses, some peonies, winter honeysuckle, and leatherleaf mahonia.

Planting decorative gardens according to the fragrance of the plants and blossoms is not for everyone. But, if you like to have a blend of fragrances that will compliment each other, this information may be of use to you. Hopefully, it can help you create a garden that will provide many hours of pleasure for you and your family, and maybe a few neighbors, as well.


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  • Riviera Rose profile image

    Riviera Rose 4 years ago from South of France

    Really interesting hub, I had no idea about all the fragrance groups before, you've really opened my eyes...or should that be nose? :) Voted up and interesting.

  • TopNicher profile image

    TopNicher 6 years ago from Philippines

    I love flowers and sweet smelling perfumes ...and I always thought human brain has no capacity to recreate smell by memory. I find it amazing to read about fragrances and their classifications.

  • melbel profile image

    Melanie Palen 6 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

    I am so jealous about this topic! Seriously, I miss smells... (I lost my sense of smell after using a nasal spray in 2004) I remember the smell of roses so clearly that it's almost like I can smell them. Fantastic hub on a really unique topic -- I didn't know you could classify a smell!

  • Lindy's World profile image

    Lindy's World 6 years ago

    Very interesting. I think this is how I will plant my flower bed next year.

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

    How interesting! I had no idea there were such classifications until just now.

  • profile image 6 years ago

    like the information - thanks for the ideas - will be planting a section of the spring garden with these thoughts in mind!

    voted up, useful and interesting


  • Deborah-Diane profile image

    Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

    Very useful information. I love my flower garden, and now I can classify my flowers by the different fagrances!

  • The Dirt Farmer profile image

    Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

    Love the idea of planting a scent garden. Thanks for the information, especially the plant examples. Vote up definitely!

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    What a wonderful hub, I have never considered the scent of a flower when plant before, nor thought about the different kinds of scents.

    Thank you for sharing a useful and interesting hub, voting up.

  • Vicki99 profile image

    Vicki99 6 years ago from Meridian Idaho

    Fantastic information! I will be thinking about, and smelling, gardens in a very different way. Thank you. Voted Up!

  • catsimmons profile image

    Catherine Simmons 6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

    What a beautiful hub, I'd never thought of the fragrances this way before, and must try and use this thinking from now on. Thanks, voted up.