I love flowers. The way they look and the color they provide. Honestly, I love everything about them. Well, almost everything. As my fragrance allergy continues to advance, so does my sensitivity to the scent of flowers.
I almost always have fresh flowers in my kitchen, but some bother me more than others, and there’s actually a scientific reason behind that. The chemical constituents that make up the scent of flowers also cross-react with the chemical constituents our T-cells have labeled as invaders. Allergic Contact Dermatitis is a Type IV delayed hypersensitivity allergy that involves the memory T-Cells. The chemistry behind the aroma/scent of flowers is incredibly complex. The smell of any flower is never the result of a single chemical constituent. And that makes it a challenge. Take a look at this chart.
The Scent of Flowers
Linalool Allergy behind the scent of Roses
If you have a Linalool Allergy and have always been bothered by Roses and Hyacinth, it’s most helpful to know that these flowers have Linalool as a portion of their chemical constituent structure. While this chart is definitely not conclusive of all fragrance chemical constituents, it does help you understand how complex the scent of flowers is. It would be impossible to list all constituents of a flower as each flower has hundreds of constituents. It’s why I strongly caution against the use of Essential Oils. They contain hundreds of chemical constituents and can be a recipe for disaster for someone with fragrance allergies.
Aroma Chemistry Affect the Scent of Flowers
It’s important to note that the aroma chemistry of a flower is incredibly complex. The smell of any one flower is never the result of a single chemical constituent. This is also why the ingredient “Fragrance” on a product’s ingredient list can be made up of hundreds of chemical compounds to make their signature scent. Making it even more challenging is that these signature scents are proprietary, and companies are not required to disclose their mix. It’s why those of us with fragrance allergies must avoid all fragrances.
The rose is highly complex. The major constituents of the plant’s essential oil are Rose ketones. Other compounds include geraniol, citronellol, farnesol, linalool, and 2-Phenylethanol.
In comparison to roses, Carnations have a fainter scent, but for me personally, carnations contain many of my fragrance allergies. Their major aroma chemicals are eugenol and benzoic acid derivatives. The carnation can also contain Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, and Limonene. As a side note, Cloves have a high level of Eugenol.
Lilies have a high level of Linalool. Actually, a lot of plants contain linalool, more than 200 species actually! This is why it’s a prevalent allergen. A vast number of personal care products include Linalool as a fragrance. Other aroma-contributing compounds in lilies include Benzyl Alcohol and Cinnamic Alcohol.
Hyacinth has several compounds responsible for the citrusy and balsamic scent. Ethyl 2-methoxybenzoate has a fruity scent and cinnamyl alcohol (also found in cinnamon) has a strong balsamic smell. Linalool is also a main componenet of Hyacinth.
Lilacs contain benzyl methyl ether. Especially when in full bloom, it contributes a fruity scent to the lilac. Cinnamic Aldehyde is also a main component and helps with the classic lilac scent.
I also want to say that this graph above is really just a rough guide to the chemicals that flowers contain. There’s a lot of variation between specific types of flowers, even within one flower type.
For the Love of Flowers
I have begun to use a lot of artificial flowers in my home. Some, especially the poly ones, are so lifelike! I love them because they don’t bother my fragrance allergy. I found these below on Amazon and they are truly lifelike and extremely reasonable!
Let me know if you’ve found one flower to be trickier than another for you and your fragrance allergy! And if you get to try out any of these gorgeous artificial flowers from Amazon!