Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuberose / Sundal Malam

Latin name: Polianthes tuberosa.

This flower is made popular in Malaysia by Suhaimi Baba's Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam a story about a vampire whose favourite flower is the tuberose. I have two pots at home. Its especially fragrant in the night hence the name Sundal Malam. Its leaves look like lemon grass- a bit waxy though not as sharp. I would love to plant them in the ground but afraid someone would mow them... yelah looking a bit like lalang. You plant them from bulb.

In Indonesia it is called "bunga sedap malam", meaning fragrant night flower. In Persian, it is called "Maryam" .

MMmm incidently the movie the vampire's name is Maryam. The tuberose is also used traditionally in Hawaii to create Leis and was considered a funeral flower in Victorian times. Its scent is described as a complex, exotic, sweet, floral. The scent of the flower is a fusion of white petals and warm skin, an arresting sensual and heady fragrance.

Its white flowers contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties.The legend of the tuberose in France warns that young girls should not breathe in its fragrance after dark for fear that it would put them in a romantic mood.

Its East Indian name is "Rajnigandha", though it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "Raat ki Rani" ("Queen of the Night"), which is really
Cestrum nocturnum. In Ayurvedic medicine, attars are held in high esteem not only for their exquisite fragrance, but their healing properties. Tuberose is known to improve one’s capacity for emotional depth, opening the crown chakra, improves psychic powers. Tuberose also amplifies artistic inspiration as it stimulates the creative right side of the brain. And it brings serenity to the mind and heart.

Like most night blooming flowers, tuberose is pollinated by nocturnal moths, which explains the white shade of the flowers. Like jasmine, tuberose continues to produce its scent even after the flower is picked, thus, lending itself as a perfect candidate to the traditional painstaking enfleurage method.

Steam distillation with its high temperature is not a feasible way to extract the absolute. While enfleurage is a traditional method traced back to Ancient Egypt, solvent extraction using hexane is far more common. Either method is time consuming, requiring 3600 pounds of blossoms to produce 1 pound of the absolute, which is why tuberose oil is among the most expensive , more expensive than rose, in perfumery, more than $2,000 per pound.

Perfumes dominated by tuberose: Robert Piquet Fracas, Chanel Gardénia, Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle, Guerlain Mahora, Chloé, Christian Dior Poison, Givenchy Amarige, White Shoulders, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Jardin Blanc, L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons, Parfums de Nicolaï Number One, Les Parfums de Rosine Mea Culpa, Creed Tubereuse Indiana, Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, Estee Lauder's Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia.

Additional fragrances containing tuberose: Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, Jean Patou Joy, Balmain Jolie Madame, Hermès Amazone, Lancôme Magie Noire, Caron Nocturnes, Givenchy Organza, Rochas Poupee, Lanvin Arpège.

Sundal Malam Body oil

You will need

Sunflower/ grapeseed oil ( most supermarkets have them) preferably organic
2 stalks of Sundalmalam/ Tuberose

You can extract the perfume from this flower using either sunflower oil or grapeseed oil- Oil that do not have strong scent themselves like the coconut or olive oil. Immerse fully the flower dried or fresh in a jar. Shake daily and keep for two weeks. Strain the flower and repeat until you get perfumed oil. Use the oil after bath.

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