Date Last Edited: 08/24/2001
Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service
In the proof-reading phases of the University of Hawaii's Plumeria Cultivars in Hawaii bulletin 158, the editor disagreed with the authors on the nature of the fragrance of several of the plumeria cultivars. It brought to mind the differences that people come with in describing odors. Plumeria flower fragrances can be described as weak, mild or strong, with the strongly scented ones characterized in terms of other fragrances: citrus, coconut, rose, cinnamon, carnation, jasmine, gardenia, fru ity, or even woody.
'Common Yellow' has as major components the compounds phenylacetaldehyde and linalol (16.1 and 14.1 percent, respectively). Also present are:
Other volatiles that were present in the 'Common Yellow' flowers were either absent or present at much lower levels in 'Irma Bryan,' while methyl cinnamate (1.0%) and 2-methylbutan-1-o1 (10.5%) were found in the red 'Irma Bryan' flowers and not in the 'Co mmon Yellow.' Methyl cinnamate has a powerful fruity-spicy odor and seems to characterize 'Irma Bryan' while the 2-methylbutan-1-o1 does not seem to contribute to its scent.
Does it make the wonderful plumeria fragrance the less exquisite to know that 12 hydrocarbons, 21 alcohols, 13 esters, 8 aldehydes, and 20 miscellaneous compounds were detected?
So, when asked what creates the wonderful plumeria scent, you can reply authoritatively and quote the chemical names. On the other hand, you can paraphrase Joyce Kilmer and state that only God can make a plumeria.
Nearly a pound of flowers of each cultivar were subjected to steam distillation and extraction with organic solvents to derive a mere 70 milligrams (0.002 oz) of essential oil. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analyses were carried out to characte rize the various volatile components.
Chinn, J. T. and R. A. Criley. 1983. Plumeria cultivars in Hawaii. HAES Research Bulletin 15 8. (Out of Print)
Omato, A., K. Yomogida, S. Nakamura, S. Hashimoto, T. Arai, and K. Furukawa. 1991. Volatile components of plumeria flowers. Part I . Plumeria rubra forma acutifolia (Poir.) Woodson cv. Common Yellow. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 6:277-279.
Omato, A., S. Nakamura, S. Hashimoto, and K. Furukawa. 1992. Volatile components of plumeria flowers. Part II. Plumeria rubra L. cv. Irma Bryan. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 7:33-35.
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