Raw Materials Mimosa and Cassie

Mimosa and Cassie

05/18/13 12:53:27 (7 comments)

by: Elena Vosnaki

Sugar-spun pom-poms, bushy and fluffy like otherworldly candies, brimming with the aroma of childhood and of a mother's soft embrace. Mimosa is a miracle of nature, a tree with a unique appearance and a scent like no other. Although you may have frequently seen the yellow little balls sprouting from a leafy green branch in many a florist's shop, these "mimosa" posies are not true mimosa, they're acacias, the plant from which the essence of cassie is rendered. True mimosas do not have yellow blossoms, though the two are relatives in a common clan.

Mimosa  pudica                                                            Acacia (cassie)

Acacia is this enigma: a floral, seemingly innocent component but nuanced with human warmth, comforting yet with an almost too intimate facet if you give it enough attention. Many acacias have fragrant flowers but only two species, Acacia decurrens var. dealbata and A. farnesiana are utilized in perfumery, the second being the most celebrated.

Cassie flower absolute is extracted from the flora of the Acacia Farnesiana shrub, itself named after the Villa Farnese where the semi-tropical plant was transplated for ornamental reasons. The plant is named after Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626) of the notable Italian family which under the patronage of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, maintained some of the first private European botanical gardens in Rome in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Farnese Gardens at Carparola. They later became famous for importing acacia to Italy from the Caribbean and Central America, henceforth the name stuck to the plant.

Cassie is among the most esoteric essences, its honeyed richness (with an anise-reminiscent nuance too) almost redolent of the intimate scents of copulating bodies. The voluptuousness and animalic character underneath the sweet floralcy is best highlighted in the cult phenomenon of Une Fleur de Cassie by Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle's line; one hell of a sexy fragrance for someone who knows that enigmatic can be alluring. In Guerlain's Après L’Ondée cassie further warms the delicate heliotrope bouquet, which belies the chilliness of the shy violet on top, and compliments it via its analogous violet ketone facet, naturally found in the absolute; it's the promise of sunshine and hope after the spring shower. Caron's Farnesiana is perhaps the richest expression in the classical mold; jammy, powdery, expanding, an almondy nuance too.
 

Two types of commonly called "mimosas" are most frequent: Acacia pycnantha (literally "of dense flowers") is the floral emblem of Australia, while Acacia dealbata (wattle) is a similar variant often presented to women and refered to as "mimosa;" it's probably what most people associate with mimosa.

A variant called Mimosa pudica is called "shy plant," because it closes its compound leaves inwards when touched and is in fact a "true" mimosa. Technically mimosa can be distinguished from the large related genera, Acacia and Albizia, since its flowers have 10 or fewer stamens.

Albizia, aka Silk tree (below at the picture)

The almost innocent, childlike aroma of mimosa can be used in great effect in floral compositions, such as Champs Elysées by Guerlain, where it boosts the white floral bouquet, or in Kelly Calèche by Hermès, where it recalls the floral timbre of the treated hides at the vaults of the celebrated sellier that is Hermès. Amarige by Givenchy is another famous case of highlighting mimosa in a composition, this time sandwiched amidst intense notes which create a very powerful, almost overwhelming message. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Goutal's Le Mimosa is diaphanous, with a sheer peach note and buttery chamomile over baby-shampoo orange blossoms.

But the scent of mimosa in bloom is rather elusive all the same, with perfumes utilizing it as an accent instead of the main plot. Perhaps the one true rendition comes from L'Artisan Parfumeur in their old standby, where the milky and violet facets of a true mimosa sing with the unreserved melodies of a spring morning's lark.

Fragrances with mimosa/cassie include:

Acca Kappa Mimosa
Annick Goutal Le Mimosa
Ayala Moriel Les Nuages de Joie Jaune
Calypso Christiane Celle Mimosa
Caron Farnesiana
Chanel No.5
Creed Aubepine Acacia
Czech & Speake Mimosa
DSH Perfume Mimosa
Estée Lauder Private Collection
Fragonard Mimosa
Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie
Givenchy Amarige
Amarige Mimosa de Grasse Millesime 2005
Givenchy Amarige Harvest Mimosa 2007
Givenchy Amarige Harvest Mimosa 2009
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Tiare Mimosa
Guerlain Après L’Ondée
Guerlain Champs Elysées
Hermès Calèche Fleurs de Méditerranée
Hermès Kelly Calèche
Halle Berry Halle
L'Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa pour Moi
L'Erbolario Mimosa
L'Occitane Voyage en Mediterranee Mimosa de l'Esterel
Molinard Les Fleurs: Mimosa
Parfums de Nicolai Mimosaique
Yves Rocher Pur Desir de Mimosa

Elena Vosnaki

Elena Vosnaki is a historian and perfume writer from Greece and a Writer for Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests.

Her writing was recognized at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she contributes to publications around the world.

 



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SandraV
SandraV

Oh I had forgotten all about that Kenzo perfume.It may sound strange(as it has no Silk Tree note in it) but good old Vanderbilt has a sweetness to it that reminds me of those blooms.Thanks for the reply.:)

May
22
2013
Elena Vosnaki
Elena Vosnaki

SandraV,

I know that J'Adore by Dior has a silk tree "note". But it's a mix. I could also direct you to the Kenzo line with its flower themed fragrances, I believe there's one inspired by silk tree.

Arbre Amer,

thanks! The tree you're referring to is Robinia Pseudoacacia and indeed it's a ...faux acacia as the name suggests. In the US it's called indeed black locust.
Wonderful looking and smelling too!

Thanks everyone for the nice words on the article. :-)

May
22
2013
ms. m
ms. m

I also grew up with a Silk tree in the front yard, which my mother always called a mimosa. I agree with SandraV about the heavenly scent of those flowers. It's intoxicating and difficult to describe. In reference to The Lorax by Dr. Suess, we always referred to it as the Truffula tree. I've got them in my own yard now, and I always walk over and smell the flowers when they're in bloom.

Thank you so much for this informative article, Elena. I have wondered why mimosa-themed fragrances never smell like the delicate pink wispy puffs I know and love too. I also always wondered why a champagne cocktail with orange juice was called a mimosa since there seemed to be no resemblance, well, beyond the part about being intoxicating I suppose!

May
20
2013
sistermoon
sistermoon

Arbre: Black Locust has white blossom as far as I know, and it smells very different from mimosa. It has a very lovely, intense smell that I remember from childhood. (even the leaves do- kinda creamy/spicy).

Speaking of mimosa, I love it, such a sunny, fluffy, optimistic note. :)

May
20
2013
Arbre Amer
Arbre Amer

I am glad I can finally tell which is which Elena! Now there is just one more blurry area. What is in reality the tree Black Locust which in Greece it is also referred to as Acacia?

May
20
2013
basia77
basia77

Wonderful informative article!

May
18
2013
SandraV
SandraV

I grew up with a Silk tree in our front yard-it had a heavenly scent and the hummingbirds were crazy about the pink, feathery flowers.I wish I could find a perfume that smelled of them...funny as we always called that a Mimosa tree so the first time I saw what a true Mimosa looked like I was confused!Thank you for the wonderful article.:)

May
18
2013

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