Of course, one of the outstanding characteristics of herbs is what might be termed their nasal quality. The perfumes and aromas exuded by their leaves and flowers on a warm sunny day give and garden a fourth dimension, and one of the charms of the Greek and Italian hillsides is the pungently aromatic fragrance given off by the herbs and shrubs. Some herbs have scented flowers which can be smelt before the plant is seen; the apothecary’s rose, Rosa gallica officinalis, is an example. Others such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) have leaves with a strong, sneeze inducing odour; yet others have flowers or leaves which need to be rubbed in the fingers before the aroma can be enjoyed such as lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), or ginger mint (Mentha x gentilis variegate).

•It was once thought that plants that looked like the symptoms of an illness could be used to cure it. Lungwort, for example was recommended for lung conditions because people believed its white spotted leaves bore a resemblance to diseased lungs.

• It was once thought that plants that looked like the symptoms of an illness could be used to cure it. Lungwort, for example was recommended for lung conditions because people believed its white spotted leaves bore a resemblance to diseased lungs.

Moreover perfumery is probably an even more ancient art than dyeing; it is a more obvious constituent of a plant so would have been experimented with earlier to disguise bad smells if nothing else, such as those of rotting meat and decaying vegetation. Fresh flowers are fine for scenting the air but their life is finite, and to preserve their perfume, it was found that a mixture of flower petals, collected when they were at exactly the right stage in their development, then carefully dried or part-dried and mixed with an ingredient which fixed the perfume, such as orris root (Iris germanica florentina) would continue to give off fragrance for months and even years. Such a mixture we now know as potpourri, from the French potpourri to rot, not a very accurate name, since the ingredients are preserved rather than allowed to decay.

•Dyer’s green weed a dye herb producing a good strong yellow was used by both the ancient Greeks and Romans. Its flower heads and seeds were also once used to treat rheumatism and dropsy, and as a purgative.

• Dyer’s green weed a dye herb producing a good strong yellow was used by both the ancient Greeks and Romans. Its flower heads and seeds were also once used to treat rheumatism and dropsy, and as a purgative.

Eventually there can be discovery that scented oil could be extracted from those flowers or leaves which were perfumed. Enfleurage is one method of doing this, by making a kind of sandwich with purified fat forming the “bread” and the flower petals the contents of the sandwich. Distillation is another in which flowers are boiled in water, and the essential oil given off in the steam is collected and condensed by cooling. Extraction with alcohol is a third method, when the solvent trickles over the plant material is collected and then distilled to leave the oil as a solid material. Fragrant herbs playa great part in what has come to be called aromatherapy, in which essential fragrant oils from herbs are rubbed on to the skin. The different fragrances are thought to have an improving effect on a variety of physical and emotional problems.

•Culinary herb garden with bronze fennel, rosemary, tarragon and chives among other plants. Throughout the ages the most extensive use of herbs has been in cooking and for flavoring food.

• Culinary herb garden with bronze fennel, rosemary, tarragon and chives among other plants. Throughout the ages the most extensive use of herbs has been in cooking and for flavoring food.

Now that herbs have invaded several parts of our lives, and not least our gardens how much of this is just a fashionable phase, and how much will remain as a permanent and essential ingredient of everyday living? Since herbs do so much for the flavor of food and its digestion, have such profound use in medicine, both for humans and animals, and have so much utilitarian value domestically in the home, and in the garden, it seems most unlikely that they will ever fall into such disuse again. The countries of the Third World in particular need them desperately for medical purposes, as the synthesized drugs are so expensive. Another pointer to their continued and increasing use is the recent interest in holistic medicine; the philosophy of which can have such far reaching effects that the entire way of life of modern civilization may be completely altered by the time the twenty first century is going on.

•The apothecary’s rose since early times source of some of the best known and most loved of all herbal perfumes, scented oils and waters.

• The apothecary’s rose since early times source of some of the best known and most loved of all herbal perfumes, scented oils and waters.

Originally posted 2015-08-24 21:53:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Herbs and Perfumery
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