Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Neroli Tree Mystery

A photo of the Neroli blossom Citrus aurantium var. Bouquet de Fleurs
I posted this on several Yahoo groups today and I'm hoping to suss out the mystery of the proper name for the neroli tree:

For years, I've questioned why C. aurantium var. amara was named as the source of neroli in all the aromatherapy (AT) books. I studied at a Citrus Research Center at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and two of my professors there were among the authors of the industry Bibles, The Citrus Industry Vols. 1-4. I was taught that C. aurantium var. Bouquet de Fleurs was the source of neroli. We had a beautiful stand of the small, rounded trees growing on campus. Early one Sunday morning, my husband and I went down the row, bucket in hand, vodka in bucket, harvesting as many flowers as possible. The tincture was heavenly!

For years, however, in my dyslexic way, I reversed the name. I called it Fleurs des Bouquet, and I couldn't find any reference to it. I've since lost my Citrus Industry books on moves, and didn't bother to call back to the University of CA, Riverside to check. I figured maybe the variety I remembered came down with a disease, and the amara replaced it in the industry. After all, one book after another, one supplier after another named the  amara as the neroli source.

I had a meeting today with a student and colleague who is moving forward with a grant to look into developing distillation projects here in Florida, and hopefully, Haiti. Neroli came up.  I spoke of my confusion with the AT books and suppliers.

When I went online to google FdB, all I came up with was a post by myself on a perfumery blog in 2005. I figured something was wrong if not one other hit came up with that name. I googled citrus aurantium varieties bouquet neroli and the skies parted and the sun came out.

One source after another names Bouquet de Fleurs as the source of neroli.
I've been wondering what's up all these years. I'm not saying that amara isn't one name for it, but why does everyone cite it as the only source? BdF was #1 according to the old professors, and they were German and quite sure of themselves ;-) I'm German, too, but quite unsure of myself where all this is concerned, lol.

Here's some pages, and of course, you may find some other info independently.

The first site cites my alma mater, UCR

On the Bouquetier spp.

This site mentions production in Haiti and I believe it says BdF and amara may be synonyms (they call the cultivars Bouquetier):

Ah, from UCR!

It's just the beauty and memory of those trees at Riverside that had me cling on to the hope that I could unearth something about their name. Can anybody help? Bouquet de Fleurs (even reversed as I had it) is such a romantic name, and is it possible it's the true, historic name?

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