Never in the history of perfumery has a flower or family of flowers been as important to the perfumer as jasmine. For centuries, women in the Far East have worn the flowers—mainly of Jasminum sambac, Jasminum flexile and Jasminum auriculatum—to adorn their hair, necks, wrists and ankles, imparting a grace, refinement, charm and magical scent. Today, we see a trend in so-called fine toiletries to use the name of the flowers. However, when thinking of jasmine as a fragrance ingredient, perfumers tend to consider only Jasminum grandiflorum or J. sambac, while inexplicably ignoring the other species of this family.
Jasmines (sometimes referred to as jessamines) belong to the genus Jasminum of the olive family (Oleaceae). This plant family contains hundreds of tropical and subtropical varieties of fragrant, flowering and woody shrubs—many of which are yet to be explored by the perfume industry. Meanwhile, numerous fragrant flowered plants from other families—despite not literally belonging to the family—are referred to as jasmines: star, or confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), cape jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides), Madagascar jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda), jasmine tobacco (Nicotiana alata), Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Chilean jasmine (Mandevilla suaveolens), orange jasmine (species of the genus Murraya), night or day jasmine (genus of Cestrum)and the non-fragrant pandorea jasmine (Pandorea jasminoides).