Learn about the secret
language of plants
Scientists are increasingly able to show how
layered, connected and complex the world of
plants actually is. Plants are intelligent. They
learn, remember and send signals to each other.
They communicate in a molecular language that
we can perceive as smell!
Learn about the meaning of scent molecules in the language of plants. Walk down the trail and lift the glass bells to put a drop of scent on your blotters to create your own scent message.
Continue to find the descriptions of
the tour in English
Molecules and the meaning of scent
Linalool + Phenylethanol
What stops insects from plundering a flower and gobbling up all its nectar, collecting every grain of pollen, without leaving anything for the next visitor? The answer lies in (scent) molecules.Two important molecules, which we can observe in the distinctive smell of flowers (and flower perfumes), are linalool and phenylethanol. Beloved by bees and butterflies, phenylethanol is also an excellent ant deterrent. Linalool keeps crickets and moths at bay, and both are effective in suppressing harmful microbes.
The intriguing aspect of limonene lies in its dualism. We humans find the citrus scent blissful, while in nature it is actually a defense mechanism, meant to deter insects and other herbivores. When you look at the balance between defense and defense in nature, limonene is a sharp example of the subtle language of plants, challenging us to look beyond the surface.
Night flowers - moths
Moths, with their sensitive sense of smell, rely on subtle changes in scents as their guide to find and pollinate flowers, especially when night falls. In the deepest darkness of night, the scent of vanilla ensures that the moth knows how to find the plant.
Night flowers - bats
The flowers of honeysuckle, night-blooming Jasmine and other night-blooming plants contain methyl anthranilate at specific times. This molecule releases a sweet and fruity scent that attracts bats the moment they are awake and looking for nectar.
The scent of a flower has evolved to exactly match the preferences of the specific organisms they attract for pollination. Attract can be thought of as a kind of summary of the chapter: "seduction techniques in plants," composed into a delicious perfume, specifically for bees and butterflies.
The smell of grass and leaves often arouse pleasant memories in us. In our everyday life, we regularly come into contact with the fresh smell of newly cut grass that we can recognize by the characteristic molecule cis-3-hexanol, which is released when a plant is damaged. It has a function as a kind of alarm signal for neighboring plants, preparing them for possible danger.
Caryophyllene is a distinctive part of the smell of black pepper and it can discourage some herbivores from eating the plant, a spicy and strategic move by the plant to protect itself. It's like an alarm signal to herbivores: "Maybe you should look elsewhere for your snack, because I'm not as tasty as you think."
This fragrance embodies the power of trees and plants to defend themselves. Have you ever noticed those enchanting scents that rise from trees and plants in spring? These scents form complex defense mechanisms. They communicate with all creatures in the forest, warning of danger or asking for support and protection.
This fragrance is part of the perfumes of Lingua Planta.
Sustainably sourced Boswellia resin
The scents that rise from trees and their resins are often considered a form of communication with higher realms, while here, with our feet firmly on the ground, we can smell these aromas. Resins are complex mixtures of protective molecules that are released when a tree is physically damaged. They seep out in liquid form, where they serve as a kind of healing balm for the tree.
Imagine walking through a pine forest on a scorching hot summer day, or maybe sitting by a crackling campfire made from that resin-rich pine. Have you ever wondered why pine trees smell so darn good? That pleasant pine smell, we owe it to the essential oils released from the tiny breathing holes of the needles. The hotter the weather, the more the trees send those essential oils into the atmosphere.
These scent molecules not only serve as protection for the tree, but they also play a role in how the pine tree interacts with its environment. For example, they can serve as signaling agents for other plants or organisms.
The composition of pine needle essential oil is actually quite simple. Most of it consists of a terpene, appropriately called pinene. Sometimes they add another terpene, limonene, a common constituent of essential oils that you typically find in the peel of citrus fruits. And as a final addition, a touch of terpene alcohol called borneol, accompanied by some esters. The result of this blend is a subtle and volatile pine scent that fills you with a sigh of relief.
In nature, bornyl acetate is often found in the resins of pine trees and other conifers. It has that typical fresh, pine-like scent that we often associate with pine forests and the outdoors and provides protection for a plant through its antibacterial effects.
Bornyl acetate is known for its calming and relaxing effects and is sometimes used in fragrance blends to promote tranquility and well-being. It is an example of how the natural chemistry of plants can contribute to our sensory experiences and well-being.
If it rains again during a long period of drought, there is a typical smell in the air; petrichor. As long as it is dry the petrichor molecules are just sitting in the soil, when it rains these molecules will detach from the soil and the typical smell will be released. The organic compound that is smelled is geosmin. This literally means earth smell. Geosmin can make us aware of changes in the weather and has historically helped predict rain.
Scientific research shows that plants and trees can communicate with each other through these fungal threads. Understory is a perfume inspired by this underground life from the natural fragrance line Lingua Planta, from the creator of this fragrance walk.