Monday, April 21, 2008

Carnations & Clove

Why does the Carnation flower smell like clove? The carnation (Dianthus caryophyllata) contains eugenol, the same scent molecule found in the oil of clove. (Oil of clove comes from the the dried flower bud of a tropical tree, and has pain relieving properties.) The two plants are from distinctly separate botanical families but both of them carry eugenol. This is why some people call the carnation a 'clove pink' flower. The absolute oil from the carnation may contain different properties and a lower concentration of eugenol, so the oils would be different. Eugenol sort of knocks out that acrid note that makes perspiration turn into body odor ~ not completely, but it does help cancel it out, so carnation & clove scents are extra refreshing in the summertime.

I like saying Eugenol in a lousy French accent. Now I imagine that Balzac's character, Eugenie Grandet smells like carnations.

And now to expose Cergie's secret. She makes pomanders -- oranges studded with whole cloves to scent a certain room in her home.

My mother taught us to make them when we were kids. It was way worse than making paper chains because the cloves were pointy and sharp. My "martha stewart-like" sister loved doing it and could smugly make 3 perfect pomanders in the time it took me to make one sad looking one. For a few years my mother thought the answer to my defective pomanders was making me work on a wide variety of crafts. ( practice makes perfect!) After a while she realized I could only produce ugly and misshapen crafts, and I was just wasting precious crafting materials. I was free to go outdoors or read a book while my sisters labored on. My mother put pomanders in a closet with the bed linens, so our sheets smelled like eugenol, which was nice.

Photo: L'Heure Bleue by Ched. (L' Heure Bleue contains eugenol.)

Happy Birthday and a drop of carnation absolute to Pod.