Scent of the vanishing flora

Scent of the vanishing flora

Roman Kaiser

Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH 2010 | 400pp | ?105.00 (HB)

ISBN 9783906390642

Reviewed by Lucy Mitton

Book cover - ’Scent of the vanishing flora’

Many scents are based on endangered plant species

© Wiley-VCH

At first sight this appears to be a coffee table book for a general readership, beautifully designed and illustrated. But closer examination shows that this book, written by Roman Kaiser, an eminent fragrance and flavour chemist at the Givaudan Research Centre in Dubendorf near Zurich, Switzerland, contains much detailed chemistry, 130 pages of GC-MS data and extensive notes and references to each chapter.

This book, following on from Kaiser’s previous volume Meaningful scents around the world (reviewed in Chemistry World in December 2006), was inspired by Dugald Stermer’s book Vanishing flora, and concentrates on the scents from 267 endangered plant species worldwide, for example in South Africa’s Cape region, the African and American tropics, and coniferous forests. 

It is based on a long-term research programme at Givaudan in which Kaiser and his colleagues collected around 2700 natural scent samples by non-destructive trapping techniques, followed by headspace capillary GC-MS analysis. 

The results of the analysis have then been used in the reconstitution of 550 scents based on the individual synthetic scent constituents. Many of these scent reconstitutions have been used for the creation of famous fragrances. 

This book is a valuable record of the important research by Kaiser in the field of the characterisation of natural plant scents in endangered plant species and the synthetic laboratory reconstruction of
these scents.

In addition to the factual information on the chemistry, this book contains many personal anecdotes on the plant hunting process, since many of the endangered plant species proved very hard to find. It should be of interest to those working in the area of perfumery, and natural product chemists in general, and those who enjoy reading about the exploits of plant hunters.

RSC members can purchase this book direct from the publishers for a 30% discount on the RRP. See the member benefits link on this page.

Further Reading

  • R Kaiser, Meaningful scents around the world: olfactory, chemical, biological, and cultural considerations. Wiley-VCH, 2006, ISBN 9783906390376 
  • R G Berger (ed) Flavours and fragrances: 
    chemistry, bioprocessing and sustainability.
    Springer, 2007, ISBN 9783540493389
  • C S Sell, Chemistry of fragrances: from perfumer to consumer. RSC Publishing, 2006, ISBN 9780854048243
  • G Ohloff, W Pickenhagen and P Kraft, Scent and chemistry: the molecular world of odors. Wiley-VCH, 2011, ISBN 9783906390666 

Related Link

New benefits for RSC Members ’Members

Substantial savings and special offers for RSC members and their families, provided by external suppliers