Botanical Name: Polianthes tuberosa
Part Used: Flowers
Process: Solvent Extraction
Plant Description: Native to Central America (mainly Mexico) where it grows wild; commercially cultivated in southern France (Grasse), Morocco, Taiwan, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and the Comoros Islands. Polianthes tuberosa is a stately perennial that grows to a height of 3 feet with long slender leaves, a tuberous root and a tall central spike topped with large, very fragrant white flowers. The single-flowered (highly fragrant) variety is grown for the extraction of its oil, while the double-flowered (less fragrant) variety is grown for the cut flower industry. The bulbs are sensitive to winterkill and are dug up in November, stored in a dry, airy place, and replanted in April. Blossoming of Tuberose is from July through September, and harvesting is carefully done by hand very early in the morning. Only those blossoms that are just starting to open are gathered the flowers continue to produce and exhale their fragrance for up to 48 hours after being picked.
The more costly and time-honored method of enfleurage of oils (developed commercially in the 17th century), requiring highly specialized personnel and equipment, is still used today to extract the aromatic oils from Tuberose (and only one other flower jasmine). This procedure is considered advantageous because both flowers hold their aroma after harvesting critical for the enfleurage process and the cost of extraction is offset by the fact that the oil yield is much greater than the yield via solvent extraction (described in the following paragraph). One is fortunate indeed when the precious enfleurage of Tuberose, rare and costly, is obtained!
Oil extraction using a solvent occurs as quickly as possible after harvest in a two step process. Giant receptacles, usually copper or stainless steel, are filled with tuberose blossoms and a solvent, most often hexane, in a manner that allows the solvent to be readily and continually in contact with each blossom. At the end of this process, the removal of the solvent by evaporation yields a waxy, aromatic mass called the concrete. The second stage of extraction is the process of washing the concrete in large amounts of alcohol. Removal of the insoluble waxy substances that separate out when the alcoholic solution is chilled is followed by removal of the alcohol via evaporation, leaving us with the beautiful aromatic plant oils known as absolutes. Although removal of the solvent and alcohol is as complete as possible (they are re-usable and therefore the more thorough the recovery, the more practical), there will always be traces of these materials in the absolute. Sometimes a certain small percentage of alcohol is intentionally retained in order that the end product is pourable and more easily used.
Oil Description: Reddish-orange or brownish-orange pasty, semi-liquid oil with an extremely sweet, heavy, honeyed, somewhat spicy floral aroma, a slightly green side note, a hint of apricot, and an almost honeysuckle- or brown sugar-like (sometimes an elusive chocolate-like) backnote. (The aroma is best appreciated when well diluted or evaluated in dry down on a scent strip.)
Historical/Traditional Uses: The use of solvents to extract aromatic constituents from botanical materials came about in recent history; the method was gradually developed and refined by a number of individuals and over a period of time during the early to late 19th century in the Grasse region in southern France, the center of aroma production, particularly florals. By 1890 the apparatus for solvent extraction had been sufficiently perfected so that this method could be developed in locations such as Germany, Italy, northern Africa and the Middle East, close to the sources of the plant material being processed, with Grasse leading the way in the expansion of the perfumers palettes with heretofore unavailable aromas. Many modern solvent extraction facilities worldwide currently furnish high-end perfume houses with these valuable materials, sometimes contracting entire crops of very rare floral absolutes (e.g., hyacinth, lily of the valley, narcissus, etc.) that are too prohibitively expensive for many outside the industry.
Applications (Uses and Indications): In aromatherapy, Tuberose Absolute is not recommended, due to the presence, albeit minute, of the solvents used in the extraction process. It is said that inhalation of Tuberose is beneficial where impotence and frigidity is indicated. When one wears Tuberose, the aroma embraces and provides protection of one’s energy and personal boundaries. In perfumery, Tuberose Absolute is considered a middle to base note of powerful tenacity and strong radiance. It is a principal component in the formulation of gardenia accords and blends well with balsam of Peru, carnation, citrus oils, jasmine, neroli, oakmoss, opopanax, orange blossom absolute, orris, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, violet leaf, and ylang ylang.
Contraindications (Safety and Precautions): Tuberose Absolute is non-irritating, non-sensitizing, and non-toxic.
Standard Safety Precautions: Always dilute essential oils before using. Keep essential oils out of the eyes and mucous membranes; in case of contact, DO NOT use water, instead place a drop or two of vegetable oil on a tissue to gently wipe out of eye or off area of contact. In severe cases, seek professional help immediately. Keep out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, call 911 immediately.
The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of this or any products from Ancient Ways Botanicals. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. For external use only. You are responsible for understanding the safe application of these products.