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Scents of the Earth

episode  nr. 6 : Tomato

I am feeling especially thrilled for this episode where I am sharing two samples of my Tomato perfume in process! I always wanted to make a tomato scent inspired by the lush, fresh, supergreen and zesty leafs from the living tomato plant and it feels great to include you into this process- albeit a little new and awkward as normally I will only have you smell perfumes that are completely finished! However I know it is one of my favorite things to learn about a perfumer/artist/musicians process so I imagine you are feeling the same. 

The tomato plant is emblematic on the research on plant intelligence that lead me into perfumery so I'll talk about Lingua Planta's origin story, about how plants use scent to communicate.. basically everything that makes fascinates me so about plants and scents. 

 

In your box you also find the tomato leaf absolute that I got from my Italian supplier and it smells... interesting! This website works best on desktop, but also on mobile devices. Enjoy! 

Hello plant friends,

 

With love,

Merle 

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Tomato leaf SOTEScents of the Earth
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“Ripe vegetables were magic to me. Unharvested, the garden bristled with possibility. I would quicken at the sight of a ripe tomato, sounding its redness from deep amidst the undifferentiated green. To lift a bean plant's hood of heartshaped leaves and discover a clutch of long slender pods handing underneath could make me catch my breath."
- Michael Pollan

In your box this month:

Tomato leaf absolute from Italy, two samples of perfume inspired by the living tomato plant.

Tomato 12 & Tomato 13.

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Corresponding images, books and video's 

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The scent of tomato leaves has found a special place in the world of perfumery, valued for its green, fresh, and slightly tart and bitter aroma. This unique scent profile can evoke the essence of a garden in full bloom, capturing the freshness and vitality of nature. I am working on Lingua Planta's Tomato perfume but if you can't wait or never have enough tomato scented anythings in your life, you can also check out:

  • Diptyque - L'Ombre Dans L'Eau: This iconic fragrance combines the green freshness of tomato leaves with the rich, floral scent of blackcurrant leaves and Bulgarian roses. The result is a sophisticated and evocative perfume that captures the essence of a summer garden.

  • The Tomato Candle from Loewe is designed to evoke the fresh, green, and slightly tangy aroma of tomato leaves and stems. This scent profile is both invigorating and comforting, reminiscent of the earthy, vibrant atmosphere of a garden.

  • Demeter Fragrance Library - Tomato: Demeter is known for its single-note scents, and their Tomato fragrance captures the true essence of tomato leaves. It's a straightforward, fresh scent that brings to mind the experience of touching and smelling tomato plants in a garden.

  • CB I Hate Perfume - Memory of Kindness: Created by Christopher Brosius, this perfume is inspired by the memory of his grandfather's tomato garden. It features notes of tomato leaves, fresh soil, and green stems, creating a nostalgic and earthy fragrance that transports the wearer to a sunny garden.

  • Flamingo Estate's Tomato Candle is designed to capture the fresh, green, and slightly earthy aroma of tomato plants. The scent is intended to evoke the experience of walking through a garden, surrounded by the lushness of growing tomatoes.

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These are a couple of the books that inspired my in my research. However, there is not one yet solely focused on scent! Maybe someone should write that book. :-)

Book tips

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La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Buñol (history) near to Valencia in Spain. Thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to fight in this 'World's Biggest Food Fight' where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. I have so many questions around La Tomatina but the fact is that this must be one of the most fragrant and immersive tomato experiences there are on Earth!

Tomato leaf material ritual

Prepare by finding a comfortable seated position in a quiet space. Take deep breaths to center yourself. Visualize being a tomato plant, rooted firmly in the earth with your roots extending deep into the soil. Feel the sun's warmth above, nourishing and energizing you. Sense the gentle breeze, connecting you to the natural world.

Apply 1-2 drops of tomato leaf absolute to your palms. Rub them together and inhale deeply, repeating silently or aloud. Embrace the resilience and growth of the tomato plant within you, visualizing yourself reaching towards the sun like its sturdy stems.

 

Express gratitude for the earth's support and nourishment. Feel a sense of harmony and balance within. Slowly return to the present moment, wiggling your fingers and toes, and gently opening your eyes, carrying the grounded and energized feeling with you.

Scroll down to dive deeper into plant intelligence

I found this video from 2017 in the dark corners of my old laptop. I made a special device that translated the energy/current of plants into sounds and this is what it sounded like! I still think this is so fascinating but I'm glad I stumbled unto scent for obvious reasons.  

In 2018 I graduated with Lingua Planta. I made a ceramic enclosed textured box with glass bulbous shapes inspired by the surface of a tomato plant. A video accompanied the installation that emitted a water mist that carried the 3 different scents, Attract, Repel and Defend. 

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Defense Mechanisms: One of the primary roles of plant scents is defense. When a plant is attacked by herbivores or pathogens, it can release specific VOCs as a distress signal. These compounds can alert neighboring plants, prompting them to bolster their own defenses. My natural perfume Defend was partly inspired by this system, but also by the ways trees defend but also heal themselves in a forest, and that warm, piney, resinous smell that you might encounter when walking outside.

 

Also a plant might produce scents that make its leaves less edible to herbivores and in this way, repels them. This inspired my perfume Repel, where I use citrus fruits, and pepper and lavender which are greatly bug repellent. In fact, I love to always carry a bottle or Repel roomspray when I am travelling as it does seem to help a lot with mosquitos. 

Scents are also very important for attracting pollinators. The composition of the scents flowers produce can vary greatly depending on the type of pollinator a plant aims to attract. Bees are drawn to sweet and floral scents, while flies might be attracted to odors that mimic decaying organic matter, moths prefer vanilla and bats like fruity smells. Attract was of course inspired by the Rose attracting bees and butterflies with its sweet and rosy scent. 

Communication Within the Plant: Scents also play a role in intra-plant communication. When a part of the plant, such as a leaf, is damaged, it can release VOCs that serve as a signal to other parts of the same plant. This signaling can lead to systemic acquired resistance, where undamaged parts of the plant activate their defensive mechanisms in anticipation of a potential threat.

Allelopathy: Some plants release VOCs that affect the growth and development of neighboring plants, a phenomenon known as allelopathy. These chemical compounds can inhibit seed germination, root growth, or nutrient uptake of competing plants, thereby reducing competition for resources like water, light, and nutrients.

Plant scents have practical applications in agriculture and horticulture. For example, certain VOCs can be used to develop natural pest repellents or to attract beneficial insects for pollination and pest control. However, what of course attracted my attention was the poetry of this fragrant language.

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Tomato stem. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the stem of a tomato plant (Lycopersicon lycopersicum). The glandular hairs, or trichomes, (vertical spines) bear groups of cells (brown spheres) that secrete fragrant oils. Magnification x157 at 6x7cm size.

I am loving the developments of Tomato so far. If you want to support my venture into making this tomato plant inspired scent, I just added Tomato as a pre-order to the website! This ensures that you will be amongst the very first people who will get this perfume once it is released. 

Find Tomato leaf in our products?
 

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Reach out or say hi

Thank you so much for joining me in my adventure through perfuming materials, navigating plant intelligence and smelling stuff! Would love to hear your thoughts. 

info@merlebergers.nl

or DM @linguaplanta

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