Olfaction News: Origins of a Perfumery Plant Beloved by the Romans


Reseda odorata 

Reseda odorata or "mignonette" now has a known maternal ancestor called Reseda minoica. The re-discovery and correct identification of an archaic plant on the Eastern Mediterranean coast opens up avenues of scientific investigation into the evolutionary mechanisms that allow a plant to transform itself into a useful and enduring ecological resource for humans, in particular in this case where its scent is concerned, according to a study published in Annales Botanici Fennici...


Reseda Minoica

"According to Pedro Jiménez Mejías, the other co-author of the study and also a researcher at UPO, "the importance of this discovery is that Reseda minoica is the maternal ancestor of a cultivated species of hybrid origin, Reseda odorata, used since Roman times due to the fragrance of its flowers, and whose essence was used in the ancient cosmetics industry. The location of one of the parts of its origin (the mother species), provides information about the evolutionary mechanisms which produce species which are later useful to humankind."

In the digests of the study, no mention is made about an olfactory profile for reseda minoica, so you have to guess that it does not present anything noteworthy, and that in fact, its lack of aroma is what is precisely interesting as its descendant is fully aromatic. 

Sources: Archeaology.org,  Science DailyAnnales Botanici Fennici


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