The Scents and Smells of Orchids ❀👃✾

The Scents and Smells of Orchids

Humour Your Nose with
The Good Scent (Perfume and Fragrance) and
The Bad Smell (Stink and Stench)

Being eye candies aside, scented orchids impart a bonus sensory dimension to the appreciation of the largest flowering plant family, the diversity of which is also commandingly reflected in the enormous variety of Scents and Smells of orchids, ranging from the ethereally aromatic and intimately sweet-smelling to the needlessly displeasing and even dauntingly putrescent, if not demoralizingly nauseating.

In spite of the subjectivity of sensory perceptions and the diversity of orchid fragrances, there is a high degree of consensus in how orchids smell to the human nose. In addition, there are sociocultural differences in the degree to which the presence and quality of fragrance are considered desirable, admirable or even obligatory in orchids. Such differences can be quite pronounced in certain genera, especially Oriental Cymbidiums, many of which are fragrant orchid competition winners, and are highly prized for their elegant and diffusive aromas, often described as a sophisticated blend of jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and lemons. The cultivation of these fragrant orchids and their exalted elevation in art are symptomatic of the Chinese idea that fragrance is the heart of the flower. Indeed, Confucius referred to Oriental Cymbidiums as the “King of Fragrance” 「王者之香」, a phrase that is still in use today, having withstood the test of time and the rise and fall of dynasties.

The smell and flavour of natural vanilla created by adding or cooking the whole pods, powder or extract from orchids of the genus Vanilla are popular and ubiquitous in myriad foods and culinary dishes. There are at least 171 identified aromatic components in vanilla fruits. Even though no other orchid genus has achieved such global reputation with the odour of its fruit or flower comparable to that of the venerable Vanilla, there are indeed plenty of orchid genera, species and hybrids capable of filling rooms, houses and conservatories with odours containing rich combinations of volatile compounds when they are in flower. Nevertheless, it is still somewhat ironic that the widespread and long-lasting flowers of Phalaenopsis are largely odourless, whereas the specialist and short-lived blooms of Stanhopea are prodigiously fragrant. Hopefully, the renewed interest in breeding orchids specifically for their fragrance as well as the worldwide progress achieved in fragrance classification, competition and judging will result in more perfumed cultivars being available to orchid enthusiasts and the public in the future.

An interactive electronic form is available to anyone wishing to contribute one or more entries to the ✿❀ Scented Orchid Registration with Queensland Orchid International ❀✿, which is a database with two tables containing orchids listed alphabetically across two opposite categories: The Good Scent (Perfume and Fragrance) and The Bad Smell (Stink and Stench).

The Gallery on Page 2 of this post provides exemplary visual documentations of scented orchids. It is a permanent record of excellent or exceptional photos and videos uploaded to the Queensland Orchid International Facebook Group.

This special post features several friendly and witty discussions (entitled “Orchid Fragrances”, “Scent Descriptions” and “Smell like a Flower, Take a Shower”) on the wide-ranging Scents and Smells of orchids.

For those who are more technically minded, this post also outlines the science of scent production in orchids as well as the classification and judging of fragrances, plus some advice from orchidsamore and fragrance variation with orchids, followed by a list of relevant articles available online and a section on reference books.

To access a list of all posts on ✿❀ Queensland Orchid International ❀✿ containing photos, videos and/or discussions of scented orchids, click ✿❀ Scented ❀✿.

✿❀ Scented Orchid Registration with Queensland Orchid International ❀✿

Any Entity, Society, Association, Organization or Company (private or public) substantially dedicated to the cultivation, promotion, exhibition, research, investigation, conservation and/or preservation of the Orchidaceae can supply information on one to three scented orchids using the form below:

Fine Fragrance Mist of Citrus Orchid Chill

Fine Fragrance Mist of Citrus Orchid Chill

If the information submitted via the form above is accurate or appropriate, it will be included in either or both of the two tables below. The URL of a photo or video of any scented orchid may be included in the form for reference. ✿❀ Queensland Orchid International ❀✿ reserves all rights and discretion to include or exclude the supplied information.

Photo & Video Contributions

Those who are interested in contributing photos or videos can upload them to the Queensland Orchid International Facebook Group.

Excellent or exceptional photos and videos uploaded to the group may be featured in the Gallery on Page 2 of this post to provide exemplary visual documentations of scented orchids.

Fragrant Orchids

Science of Scent Production

It is estimated that three quarters of orchids are scented. The scent of an orchid is produced in specialized glands called osmophores. Rich in stored lipids, the glands are characterized by intense physiological activity and biochemical turnover requiring high energy expenditure from the plant, even generating heat in some cases.

All parts of an orchid flower can produce odours, since osmophores can be located anywhere on a flower or bud, from petals and sepals to calluses and basal spurs, depending on function. On the one hand, osmophores may be diffusely located on an orchid flower to offer a general attraction to a pollinator. On the other hand, they can be confined to certain areas of the flower where a pollinator is enticed to remove or deposit pollinia in the process.

The scent of an orchid is most frequently produced on the lip, given that osmophores are most often situated at the hypochile, a rounded (globular), cupped (hood-shaped) or cylindrical structure connected to the rest of the flower and constituting the upper portion of the labellum.

Being volatile, the scented oils produced by orchid flowers can vaporize at specific temperatures, becoming available when pollinators are active. The scent can vary throughout the day both quantitatively and qualitatively as well as from day to day.

The scent release is quite an autonomous process, being strictly a light-controlled phenomenon regulated by a photochrome trigger within the flower. Hence, the inflorescence alone detects the presence or absence of daylight. Since the release is light-sensitive and independent of the orchid’s endogenous clock mechanism, it is also relatively independent of the orchid’s metabolism.

Let it be acknowledged here that the scent description of any orchid species is dependent on not just the subjectivity and variability of the human olfactory faculty as well as sociocultural factors pertaining to the perceiver, but also the variability of the scent resulting from cultural, environmental and/or clonal factors pertaining to the orchid species.

Furthermore, the absence of any floral odour on an orchid does not necessary indicate that the orchid is odourless, given that orchids have evolved with animals much longer than with humans, and that the human nose is limited in its range and sensitivity. In other words, our sense of smell is not specifically designed to detect the osmophores and nectaries present in the epidermis of the sepals and petals of many orchids. Craig Scott-Harden cited one example as follows:

Unfortunately when it comes to perfume, Pleurothallis marthae lies fair and square in the middle of the Hall of Mediocrity, having no definable odour! And yet I believe that this species attracts its pollinator by releasing a pheromone scent through osmophores located on the petals! Attracting night flying fungus gnats! So what may be indiscernible to us, has an almost hypnotic effect on the poor deceived gnat! So I wonder how the gnat would describe this perfume!

Those who are interested in learning more about Pleurothallis marthae may consult the scientific article entitled “Nocturnal pollination by fungus gnats of the colombian endemic species, Pleurothallis marthae”.

Married couple Simon and Emily of Inspiration Outdoors writing about Wildflowers of the Stirling Ranges: Best Wildflowers in Western Australia also have something witty to say about the “gnatty gritty” of scent lure as follows:

All’s fair in love and war

Honesty is not a desirable trait among many of our orchid friends and sexual deception of all kinds is rife among the 411 known species of Western Australian orchids. It’s not about push-up bras and horrible control briefs though – orchids have taken the seduction game to a whole new level. Here’s how our Bird Orchids (Pterostylis barbata and P.turfosa) do it…

Sex, lies and pheremones

Bird orchids attract their specific pollinator, a tiny gnat, by emitting a scent from a little pouch at the end of their labellum.… Some say it is the scent of the gnat’s favourite food – a delicious fungus which no gnat can resist. Others say the orchid releases a smell that is identical to the sex-attractant scent (or pheremone) that the female gnat releases, attracting virile young male gnats from far and wide.

Whether it’s sex or food that draws the gnat to the Bird Orchid, once it arrives there is little it can do to escape the clutches of the procreation-focused flower.

According to the interview entitled “Ep 6. Perfumery, persistence and parenthood with Anne Gaskett” published at in situ Science “showcasing the stories, discoveries and journeys of Australian scientists”:

Australia is what you call a hotspot for deception … these deceptive orchids are certainly much more common in Australia than other parts of the world. There’s [sic] 11 different genera, several hundred species, and it seems to be the result of six independent evolutions of sexual deception amongst the orchids in Australia, which is extraordinary because people often think of sexual deception as a crazy, quirky phenomenon. How on Earth did that happen? But it’s happened six times independently in Australia, and it’s also happened independently once or twice in Europe, but mostly in Central America and South America. But Australia’s certainly where it happened most.

Listen to the rest of the interview at,,, or to find out why Australia is such a hotspot for mimicry and deception by scent and in other ways.

Specifically, the coevolution of insects (pollinators) and plants (orchids) as well as environmental variations and geographical differences can result in the divergent selection of flowering plants, leadng to phenotypic variations, which include the variation of floral scents. Entitled “Why Do Floral Perfumes Become Different? Region-Specific Selection on Floral Scent in a Terrestrial Orchid”, a 2016 research paper demonstrates that “[g]eographically structured phenotypic selection can lead to adaptive divergence” of an orchid:

In this study, we measured phenotypic selection on display size, floral color, and floral scent in four lowland and four mountain populations of the nectar-rewarding terrestrial orchid Gymnadenia odoratissima in two years. We also quantified population differences in these traits and pollinator community composition. Our results show positive selection on display size and positive, negative, or absence of selection on different scent compounds and floral color. Selection on the main scent compounds was consistently stronger in the lowlands than in the mountains, and lowland plants emitted higher amounts of most of these compounds. Pollinator community composition also differed between regions, suggesting different pollinators select for differences in floral volatiles. Overall, our study is the first to document consistent regional differences in selection on floral scent, suggesting this pattern of selection is one of the evolutionary forces contributing to regional divergence in floral chemical signaling.

Those who are interested in detailed discussions on the coevolution of insects and plants may consult the following posts:Queensland Orchid International Plants & Insects

Orchid with a Sweet Smell of Romance

The Good Scent
Perfume and Fragrance

A Acampe papillosa — hyacinths
Acineta chrysantha — ginger, ginger beer, vanilla
Acineta superba — light vanilla
Aerangis appendiculata — gardenia
Aerangis articulata — jasmine
Aerangis biloba — gardenia, lily
Aerangis brachycarpa — vanilla, jasmine
Aerangis citrata — lemon
Aerangis confusa — tuberose, gardenia
Aerangis ellisii (syn. platyphylla) — nutmeg
Aerangis fastuosa — tuberose, lily, sweet and spicy
Aerangis kirkii — tuberose, gardenia
Aerangis kotschyana — gardenia
Aerangis modesta — minty spice
Aerangis mooreana — jasmine
Aerangis mystacidii — lily-of-the-valley
Aerangis somalensis — gardenia
Aeranthes Grandalena — jasmine
Aeranthes Grandiose — jasmine
Aeridachnis Bogor ‘Apple Blossoms’ — “exotic apple blossom”
Aerides crassifolia — aromatic floral
Aerides falcata var. houlletiana — citrus, fruity
Aerides falcata — citrus, fruity
Aerides fieldingii — lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen
Aerides houlletiana — sweetish, spicy and sweet citrusy, citrus-like
Aerides Korat Koki — floral, lemony, “classic ladies floral perfume”
Aerides lawrenceae var. sanderiana — lemon-spice
Aerides lawrenceae — lemon spice, honey, anise
Aerides odorata — spicy; ribbon candy, cloves, lilac
Aerides quinquevulnera — cinnamon
Aliceara Dragon Wings ‘Puff’ — sweet
Aliceara Marfitch ‘Howard’s Dream’AM/AOS — rose
Amesiella philippinense — minty
Anacheilium fragrans — honey, vanilla, gardenias, magnolias, lilac
Angraecum aporoides — gardenia
Angraecum birrinense — orange blossom
Angraecum boisserianum — jasmine
Angraecum bosseri — spicy floral
Angraecum compactum — spicy, citrusy
Angraecum didieri — sweet, spicy
Angraecum distichum — jasmine
Angraecum eburneum — gardenia
Angraecum eichlerianum — jasmine, lily
Angraecum germinyanum — jasmine
Angraecum Lemforde White Beauty — jasmine
Angraecum leonis — jasmine
Angraecum longiscott ‘Lea’ — jasmine
Angraecum magdalenae — jasmine
Angraecum sesquipedale — lily, gardenia and nicotiana (the scent changes as the flower matures)
Angraecum veitchii — jasmine
Angraecum white Emblem — jasmine
Angranthes grandalena — jasmine
Anguloa clowesii — chocolate and mint, paste, coconut, citrus
Anguloa uniflora — Elmer’s paste with a hint of menthol
Anguloa virginalis — Elmer’s paste with a hint of menthol
Ansellia africana — light floral
Arachnis hookeriana — musky
Arundina graminifolia — floral
B Barkeria spectabilis — sweet and spicy
Beallara Marfitch ‘Howard’s Dream’AM/AOS — rose
Bifrenaria harrisoniae — fruity, honey, spicy
Bonatea speciosa — lemon mixed with vanilla
Bothriochilus bellus — almond/poppy pastry filling
Brassavola cordata — soapy-sweet
Brassavola cucullata — musty-soapy, honey-like
Brassavola flagellaris — hot chocolate
Brassavola George Tyler — citrus
Brassavola Little Stars — soapy-sweet
Brassavola martiana — soapy-sweet
Brassavola nodosa — freesia, lily-of-the-valley, “medicinal sweet odour”, “sweet and spicy with almost a hint of church incence”
Brassavola tuberculata — nicotiana, gardenia
Brassavola Yaki ‘Black’s Best’ — musty-soapy; similar to the B. cucullata parent
Brassia gireoudiana — musky
Brassia longissima ‘Pumpkin Patch’ — light, sweet candy
Brassia ochroleuca — spicy, spiced apple pie
Brassia verrucosa — musky
Brassidium Dragon Flight ‘Fluff’ — heliotrope
Brassocattleya Binosa ‘Kirk’ AM/AOS — spicy
Brassocattleya Mt. Hood — vanilla
Brassolaelia Sarah Black — very sweet floral
Brassolaelia Yellow Bird — citrus to spicy
Brassolaelia Memoria Bernice Foster — sweet floral
Brassolaeliocattleya Arthur Bossin ‘Rapture’ — sweet floral
Brassolaeliocattleya Dinsmore ‘Perfection’ — “a fresh and elegant fragrance that is a good balance of rose and hyacinth, with a powdery nuance and a touch of mushroom”
Brassolaeliocattleya Formosan Gold — vanilla
Brassolaeliocattleya George King ‘Serendipity’ AM/AOS — sweet citrus, vanilla
Brassolaeliocattleya Goldenzelle ‘Lemon Chiffon’ AM/AOS — sweet floral
Brassolaeliocattleya Greenwich — rose-geranium aromatherapy oil
Brassolaeliocattleya Haw Yuan Beauty ‘Orchis’ — vanilla
Brassolaeliocattleya Hawaiian Avalanche — sweet floral, vanilla
Brassolaeliocattleya Momilani Rainbow — sweet floral
Brassolaeliocattleya Pamela Hetherington ‘Coronation’ FCC/AOS — sweet floral
Brassolaeliocattleya Ports of Paradise ‘Emerald Isle’ HCC/AOS — citrus
Brassolaeliocattleya Rio’s Green Magic — citrus
Bulbophyllum ambrosia — honey, bitter almonds
Bulbophyllum cariniflorum — very strongly scented
Bulbophyllum cocoinum — coconut
Bulbophyllum comosum — hay scented, cinnamon, “light flower scent”
Bulbophyllum grandiflorum — pepper, “the plant itself smells faintly like pepper even when it’s not in flower. The smell is most pronounced right after watering”
Bulbophyllum hamatipes — musky
Bulbophyllum laxiflorum — musky
Bulbophyllum lobbii — jasmine, orange blossoms
Bulbophyllum macranthum — spicy
Bulbophyllum maximum — musky
Bulbophyllum odoratissimum — pleasant fragrance
Bulbophyllum praetervisum — spicy
Bulbophyllum rothschildianum — peach, fruity, old mushrooms
Bulbophyllum suavissimum — musky
Bulbophyllum vaginatum — “citrus, almost sweet with a hint of lychee”
Bulbophyllum wendlandii — fresh cut grass
C Cadetia chionantha — sweet floral
Cadetia taylori — vanilla
Campanemia uliganosa — muguet, lily-of-the-valley
Catasetum candida — wintergreen
Catasetum collare — wintergreen
Catasetum discolor — rye bread
Catasetum expansum — “turpentine in the morning and rye bread in the afternoon”; spicy, reminiscent of chai
Catasetum fimbriatum — spice
Catasetum gnomus — wintergreen
Catasetum integerrimum — spice
Catasetum maculatum — rye bread
Catasetum Orchidglade ‘Davie Ranches’ AM/AOS — spicy, medicinal
Catasetum roseum — Vicks VapoRub in the morning, cinnamon at Night
Catasetum tenebrosum — citrus, “a warm resinous fragrance with a sharp citrus note”
Catasetum warscewiczii — lemon
Cattleya aclandiae — spicy
Cattleya bicolor var. grossii — spicy, aromatic-floral, rose
Cattleya Brabantiae — spicy
Cattleya Chocolate Drop ‘Clifton Yellow’ — frangipani-like
Cattleya Chocolate Drop ‘Kodama’ AM/AOS — lily-of-the-valley, citrus, roses, lilies
Cattleya dowiana — lemon, soapy, spicy, vanilla, vanilla cookie
Cattleya Fascelis — spicy
Cattleya forbesii — fragrance of bubble gum
Cattleya granulosa — rosy-flora
Cattleya guttata — sweet floral
Cattleya harrisoniana — floral
Cattleya intermedia ‘Carlos’ — floral
Cattleya intermedia — sweet floral
Cattleya Iricolor — sweet and strong, olive
Cattleya labiata — spicy, aromatic, cloves
Cattleya loddigesii — baked milk chocolate
Cattleya lueddemanniana ‘Waterfield’ — floral
Cattleya luteola — fresh floral
Cattleya maxima ‘Mountainside’ — heliotrope, sweet pea
Cattleya mossiae — garlic
Cattleya Peckhaviensis — honey
Cattleya Pradit Spot ‘Black Prince’ — sweet floral
Cattleya quadicolor — ripe plums, “a delicate scent somewhere between vanilla and lillies”
Cattleya schilleriana — honey
Cattleya schroederae — almonds
Cattleya walkeriana (var. alba) — vanilla, cinnamon
Cattleya walkeriana ‘H&R’ — “a diffusive fragrance, reminiscent of rose, lily-of-the-valley and jasmine”
Cattleya warneri — clean, spicy
Cattleya warscewiczii — violets
Caularthron bicornutum — fruit, candy, cotton candy, raspberries, strawberries, bubblegum, sweet citrus with vanilla overtones, lemon lollipops
Chysis limminghei — light fruity fragrance
Cischweinfia sheehanae — strong flowery scent
Clowesia rosea — “Vicks Vapo rub in the morning and cinnamon in the afternoon”
Clowesia russelliana — “delightfully fragrant”, “somewhat pervasive lemony”, “rather sickly sweetly scented”
Clowesia thylaciochila — camphor, eucalyptus
Clowesia warscewiczii — freshly ground ginger
Cochleanthes amazonica — candy, rose, narcissus, verbena
Cochleanthes discolor — candy, cedar, pepper, camphoraceous
Cochleanthes flabelliformis — Old Spice
Cochleanthes Moliere — candy, rose
Coelia bella — marzipan, chocolate covered cherries or almond oil
Coeliopsis hyacinthosma — heavily fragrant with a hyacinthlike scent
Coelogyne corymbosa — “sweet floral fragrance with a spicy undertone”
Coelogyne cristata — banana, candy sweet
Coelogyne ‘Unchained Melody’ — “too sickly sweet, like something overly ripe”, “a sugary sweet smell to a sickening intensity”
Coelogyne fimbriata — yeasty
Coelogyne huettneriana — musk
Coelogyne huettneriana var. lactea — jonquils
Coelogyne intermedia — sweet, fruity
Coelogyne lawrenceana — sweet floral
Coelogyne mayeriana — “almost like a sharp lemon mixed with lime flower”
Coelogyne ochracea — musk
Coelogyne pandurata — cinnamon
Coelogyne rochussenii — musky jasmine
Coelogyne zurowetzii — spicy floral
Coryanthes bruckmuelleri — herbal
Coryanthes leucocorys — mint
Coryanthes leucocorys — mint
Coryanthes leucocorys — mint
Coryhopea Red Martian — cherry cough syrup, cherry cola
Cuitlauzina pulchella — sweet floral perfume, very lovely and reasonably strong
Cycnoches chlorochilon — jasmine
Cycnoches loddigesii — jasmine
Cycnoches ventricosum — jasmine
Cycnoches warscewiczii — ripe fruit
Cycnoches — vanilla, spice
Cycnodes Wine Delight — “strong and spicy sweet fragrance like cherries”, “sharp, clean and slightly minty, reminding of medicine”
Cymbidium ‘Chen’s Ruby’ — “distinctly fruity and flowery including ones that smell like raspberry, citrus, coconut, lilac and even chocolate”
Cymbidium cyperifolium — sweet
Cymbidium eburneum — sweet, like paperwhite narcissus
Cymbidium ensifolium — citrus, lemony scent with a touch of jasmine
Cymbidium goeringii — jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, lemons
Cymbidium Golden Elf — “mix of lemon and yuzu”
Cymbidium Golden Elf ‘Sundust’ HCC/AOS — rose
Cymbidium kanran — lemon peel
Cymbidium Little Black Sambo ‘Black Magic’ — strong attractive fragrance
Cymbidium mastersii — almonds
Cymbidium sinensis — light, sweet floral
Cymbidium suave — sweet
Cymbidium tracyanum — peach
Cymbidium virescens — the sweet, delicate fragrance earned it the moniker of “the scent of the king”
D Darwinara Charm ‘Blue Star’ — vanilla
Dendrobium adae — lilac, a scent similar to orange blossoms
Dendrobium aloifolium — vanilla
Dendrobium amoenum — violets
Dendrobium anosmum — raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb, hyacinth
Dendrobium antennatum — rosy-flora
Dendrobium aureum — fruity, violets
Dendrobium bellatulum — lemon, orange
Dendrobium Burana Sweet Hian — “frying bacon with middle tones of black pepper and maybe with a hint of coriander”
Dendrobium cariniferum — tangerines
Dendrobium chrysotoxum — pineapple, melon, mango
Dendrobium Chrystaline — hyacinths
Dendrobium Class ‘Nasarka’ HCC/AOC — “lovely sweet Dendrobium perfume”
Dendrobium Comet King ‘Akatsuki’ — sweet floral
Dendrobium crumenatum — sweet
Dendrobium delicatum ‘Brechts’ — wintergreen
Dendrobium densiflorum — honey
Dendrobium draconis — mandarins, tangerines
Dendrobium fimbriatum var. oculatum — sweet
Dendrobium Gai Quest — sweet floral
Dendrobium glumaceum — curry
Dendrobium goodallianum — sweet coconut
Dendrobium griffithianum — spicy floral
Dendrobium hainanense — honey
Dendrobium heterocarpum — honeysuckle, primrose
Dendrobium jenkinsii — honey
Dendrobium Jesmond Fancy — sweet floral
Dendrobium Jesmond Gem — sweet floral
Dendrobium kingianum — floral, hyacinth, lilac, honey
Dendrobium lawesii — floral
Dendrobium Light River — sweet floral
Dendrobium leonis — strong, pleasant vanilla, chocolate vanilla
Dendrobium loddigesii — sweet floral
Dendrobium macrophyllum — sweet floral
Dendrobium moniliforme — rosy floral
Dendrobium monophyllum — rosy floral, jasmine, fruity
Dendrobium moschatum — musky
Dendrobium musciferum — vanilla
Dendrobium nobile var. virginale — floral
Dendrobium nobile — honey, musk by day; mown hay at night
Dendrobium parishii — rhubarb, raspberry
Dendrobium polyanthum — rose
Dendrobium primulinum var. giganteum — primrose
Dendrobium pugioniforme — vanilla
Dendrobium rhodopterygium var. semialba — sweet floral
Dendrobium Sea Mary ‘Snow King’ — sweet floral
Dendrobium singaporense — chrysanthemum tea
Dendrobium speciosum — hyacinth, honey
Dendrobium Spring Bride — fresh, clean fragrance
Dendrobium Spring Doll — fresh, clean fragrance
Dendrobium superbum — raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb, hyacinth
Dendrobium Sweet Song ‘Memory’ — fresh, clean fragrance
Dendrobium tetragonum — “sweet, with a hint of vanilla honey maybe cinnamon”
Dendrobium unicum — peach, apricot, orange peels
Dendrobium virgineum — gardenia, rose, woody
Dendrobium wardianum — caramel
Dendrobium williamsonii — spicy, citrus
Dendrochilum arachnites — cinnamon
Dendrochilum cobbianum — fresh, vanilla
Dendrochilum glumaceum — curry
Dendrochilum irigense — stale nappies
Dendrochilum magnum — sweet “wheaty” or spicy scent
Dendrophylax lindenii — mild, clean, soap-like smell at dusk and night
Diaphananthe pellucida — heavy floral sweet scent
Diaphananthe pulchella — gardenia
Disa cooperi — cloves
Diplocaulobium arachnoideum — strong melon scent
Doritaenopsis Garnet Elf ‘Mary’ — sweet floral
Doritaenopsis Phoenix Fire ‘Cardinal’ — sweet floral
Dracula simia — ripe orange
E Encyclia adenocaula — floral
Encyclia citrina — lemon
Encyclia cordigera — honey and vanilla
Encyclia cordigera var. rosea — rose
Encyclia fragrans — honey, vanilla, gardenias, magnolias, lilac
Encyclia lancifolia — spicy
Encyclia phoenicea — chocolate
Encyclia polybulbon — sandalwood, cloves
Encyclia radiata — spicy floral, coconut cream pie, lilac, carnation, hyacinth, lemon honey
Encyclia tampensis — honey
Encyclia trulla — spice
Epicattleya Dora Tinschert ‘Springdale’ HCC/AOS — sweet floral
Epicattleya Siam Jade — sweet, sweet and spicy
Eria javanica — jasmine
Eria pannea — “lemon/citrus with a strong dose of hard-to-describe spicy”
Guaricyclia (Kyoguchi) Epicattleya ‘Fumi’ (Cattleya aurantiaca x Encyclia incumbens) — fine musk cologne
Epidendrum ciliare — white floral, grapefruit, jasmine
Epidendrum coronatum — faintly lemon mint
Epidendrum difforme — medicinal
Epidendrum falcatum — jasmine, Easter lily, “from the delicate, haunting scent of jasmine in the morning to a stronger note resembling that of Easter lilies or narcissi during the afternoon”
Epidendrum inversum — cloves
Epidendrum nocturnum — eucalyptus, aniseed
Epidendrum parkinsonianum — spicy to floral
Epidendrum phoeniceum — chocolate
Epidendrum stamfordianum — jasmine, May lily, violet
Epilaelia Beverly Shea — sweet floral
Eria gigantea ‘Waterfield’ — citrus
Eria pannea — vanilla
Eriochilus cucullatus — honey
Erythrorchis cassythoides — native bee honey
Eurychone rothschildianum — cinnamon
F Flickingeria fimbriata — watermelon
G Galeottia grandiflora — “lemonade with Vics mixed in it”
Gomesa crispa — roses
Gongora galeata — orange, “a nice clean fragrance similar to freshly laundered and starched shirts”
Gongora horichiana — sweet floral
Gongora leucochila — spicy, nutmeg
Gongora pleiochroma — powdered cocoa, lilac, hyacinth, sweet floral
Gongora quinquenervis — cinnamon, cloves, lily-of-the-valley, ink
Gongora unicolor — chocolate-flavoured corn chips, sweet, cocoa
Guaricyclia Kyoguchi — strong musk
Gymnadenia conopsea — cloves, sweet, vanilla-like
Gymnadenia densiflora — marshy cut grass
H Hapalochilus immobilis — “smells like sea water and is overwhelming for the size of the flower”
Haraella odorata — citrus
Haraella retrocalla — lemon
Herminium monorchis — sweet, honey-like
Himantoglossum hircinum — goat, “special”, very intense and musk-like.
Holotrix villosa — cinnamon
I Iwanagaara Apple Blossom ‘Fantastic’ — sweet floral
J Jumellea confusa — jasmine
Jumellea densifoliata — jasmine
Jumellea sagittata — floral, jasmine
L Laelia albida — primrose
Laelia anceps — primrose, vanilla
Laelia lundii — floral scent
Laelia perrinii — spicy floral
Laelia pumila var. coerulea — light floral
Laelia purpurata var. werckhauseri — spice, anise
Laelia rubescens — wintergreen
Laelia tenebrosa — spicy
Laeliocattleya Angel Love — citrusy
Laeliocattleya Hausermann’s Sultan — cloves
Laeliocattleya Jungle Festival — sweet floral
Laeliocattleya Loog Tone ‘Red Chocolate’ — “Christmas cake cooking, sweet & spicy”
Laeliocattleya Mini Purple — “light spicy blend with undertones of dusky cloves”
Laeliocattleya Nora’s Melody — sweet floral
Laeliocattleya Purple Cascade ‘Fragrant Beauty’ — rose, gardenia
Laeliocattleya Sagarik Wax ‘HN’ — sweet
Laeliocattleya Topaz Fancy — rose, floral
Laeliocattleya Whitiniae — sweet floral
Laeliocattleya Mari’s Song ‘CTM 217’ HCC/AOS — sweet floral
Leptotes bicolor — vanilla, “a litlle bit of vanilla and a lot of cotton candy”
Leptotes unicolor — sweet floral
Liparis reflexa — “an overused and seldom-refreshed kitty litter tray”
Lycaste Alan Salzman — spicy
Lycaste Aquila ‘Détente’ FCC/AOS — sweet floral
Lycaste aromatica — cinnamon, clove, spicy, like Big Red chewing gum
Lycaste bradeorum — lemon
Lycaste brevispatha — fresh apples
Lycaste ciliata — ripe apples
Lycaste cochleata — oranges
Lycaste cruenta — spicy, cinnamon, lemon, cloves
Lycaste deppei — peppermint, eucalyptus
Lycaste Imschootiana — spicy
Lycaste lanipes — heady, honey perfume
Lycaste leucantha — sweet, heady perfume
Lycaste locusta — Granny Smith apples
Lycaste lucianii — sweet and spicy
Lycaste powellii — sweet floral
Lycaste Walnut Valley ‘Black’s Glow’ — spicy
M Mapinguari desvauxianus — mushrooms, fungi, cucumber
Masdevallia agaster — floral
Masdevallia attenuata — floral
Masdevallia Confetti — spicy, “like Necco wafers”
Masdevallia cyclotega — floral
Masdevallia glandulosa — sweet cloves
Masdevallia laucheana — rosy-floral
Masdevallia livingstoneana — fruity scent
Masdevallia mejiana — spice
Masdevallia triangularis — musty, repugnant
Maxillaria ochroleuca — tutti-frutti
Maxillaria picta — sweet floral
Maxillaria rufescens — vanilla, egg crème
Maxillaria sanderiana — sweet floral
Maxillaria seymouriana — lemony
Maxillaria tenuifolia — coconut, coconut cream pie, box of crayons, “coconut and tropical suntan lotion”, “Coconut, Pineapple, Pina colada, some mint”
Meiracyllium trinasutum — cinnamon
Milpasia Leslie Garay — rosy-flora
Milpasia Milt’s Choice ‘Helen of Troy’ — rosy-floral
Miltassia Estrelita ‘Sweet Señorita’ — sweet chocolate/vanilla, sweet floral
Miltonia moreliana — sweet jasmine
Miltonia regnellii — oranges, coriander
Miltonia schroederiana — spice floral, carnation
Miltonia spectabilis var. moreliana — rose, spicy
Miltonia spectabilis — rose, spicy
Miltonidium Goliath’s Spire — rose, gardenia, candy sweet
Miltoniopsis Bert Field — light floral
Miltoniopsis Celle ‘Wasserfall’ AM/AOS — rosy-flora
Miltoniopsis Hajime Ono — light rose
Miltoniopsis Hamburg ‘Red Velvet’ — rosy-flora
Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis — rose, lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen
Miltoniopsis roezlii — fruity, rose
Miltoniopsis santanaei — rosy
Mystacidium capense — “strong, sweet, vanilla, with just a slight hint of honey”, “somewhere between lily-of-the-valley and citrus”, jasmine, celery, “strong, musky smell after dark”
Mystacidium venosum — “strong, musky smell after dark”
N Neofinetia falcata — jasmine, vanilla
Neofinetia falcata ‘Kinrokaku’ — “a brilliant and pleasant scent reminiscent of aspects of gardenia, honeysuckle and vanilla”
Neomoorea irrorata — sweet lemony jasmin, a hint of new shower curtain
O Odontioda Vesta ‘Charm’ — citrus
Odontobrassia Fangtastic Bob Henley — floral
Odontocidium Tiger Crow ‘Golden Girl’ HCC/AOS — light floral
Odontoglossum pendulum — lemony rose
Odontoglossum pulchellum — vanilla, rosy-floral
Oeniella polystachys — vanilla; lily-of the-valley
Oncidium cheirophorum — citrus, lemon
Oncidium cheirophorum — citrus, lemon
Oncidium concolor — spiced apple pie
Oncidium cucullatum — violet
Oncidium Gold Dust — floral
Oncidium Heaven Scent ‘Redolence’ — chocolate, chocolate vanilla, “a delightfully light almost lemony perfume”
Oncidium Heaven Scent ‘Sweet Baby’ — chocolate, vanilla
Oncidium Issaku Nagata ‘Volcano Queen’ HCC/AOS — light floral
Oncidium longipes — aniseed, cinnamon
Oncidium maculatum — honey
Oncidium microchilum — cider
Oncidium ornithorhynchum — “complex sweetness, overall effect is brown sugar”
Oncidium ornithorhynchum ‘Lilac Blossom’ — vanilla, “like a fresh morning” baby powder, grape, spicy, cinnamon, cocoa, candy sweet
Oncidium Sharry Baby — white chocolate, milk chocolate, vanilla chocolate, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, Hershey bar chocolate
Oncidium Sharry Baby ‘Misaki’ (syn. ‘Yellow Panda’ or ‘Tricolor’) — chocolate, vanilla, cookies
Oncidium Sharry Baby ‘Sweet Fragrance’ AM/AOS — chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla, candy-sweet
Oncidium tigrinum — vanilla, freesia
Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite — sweet, soapy
Oncidium Twinkle ‘Fragrance Fantasy’ — sweet, strong and spicy vanilla
Oncidium Twinkle ‘Red Fantasy’ — sweet
Otaara Haw Yuan Bay ‘She Shu’ — vanilla
P Paphiopedilum Armeni White — citrus
Paphiopedilum concolor — apple
Paphiopedilum delenatii — roses, lemon honey
Paphiopedilum emersonii — chocolate
Paphiopedilum Joyce Hasagawa — raspberry
Paphiopedilum kolopakingii — honeysuckle
Paphiopedilum Lynleigh Koopowitz — raspberry
Paphiopedilum malipoense — raspberry, apple
Peristeria elata — citrus, eucalyptus (with a sweet floral aspect)
Peristeria pendula — strong, spicy, clove-like
Pescatorea lehmannii — “like Lemonheads, with a hint of vanilla”
Pescatoria lehmannii — creamy citrus
Phalaenopsis amboinensis — musk
Phalaenopsis bellina — freesia, lily-of-the-valley, rose cologne, touch of velvet, lemon, “blend of many compounds, including geraniol, which has a rose-like scent attractive to bees; and linalool, a floral/spicy fragrance”
Phalaenopsis Brother Sara Gold ‘Sogo’ — “The first whiff is sweet but as it lingers it DOES smell bacon-like”, “raw bacon just out of the package and only sizzling in the pan a short while with floral overtones… the sweet component hits you first and then is followed up with the bacon”
Phalaenopsis Caribbean Sunset ‘Sweet Fragrance’ — rose floral
Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi — cinnamon
Phalaenopsis Desert Red ‘Ruby’ — sweet
Phalaenopsis Dotty Woodson ‘Claudette’ HCC/AOS — sweet
Phalaenopsis Ember ‘Blumen Insel’ AM/AOS — rose floral
Phalaenopsis fasciata — rosy-floral
Phalaenopsis gigantea — orange peel
Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica — rosy-floral
Phalaenopsis Kilby Cassviola ‘Sweet Fragrance’ — spicy
Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana — sweet
Phalaenopsis mannii — mandarin orange
Phalaenopsis Mary Lillian Taylor ‘Desert Orange’ AM/AOS — spicy
Phalaenopsis Mini Mark ‘Holm’ — sweet floral
Phalaenopsis modesta — honeysuckle, lilac, grapes, sweet candy
Phalaenopsis Orchid World ‘Bonnie Vasquez’ AM/AOS — spicy
Phalaenopsis Orchid World ‘Roman Holiday’ AM/AOS — spicy
Phalaenopsis OX Black Face ‘OX 1647’ — rose
Phalaenopsis Perfection Is ‘Chen’ FCC/AOS — spicy, cloves, carnation
Phalaenopsis Samba — sweet floral
Phalaenopsis schilleriana — rose petals
Phalaenopsis Sweet Memory ‘Amy Dawn’ AM/AOS — freesia
Phalaenopsis valentinii — freesia
Phalaenopsis violacea — floral with a touch of spice and cinnamon
Phalaenopsis Wes Addison ‘Blood Brother’ — floral
Phragmipedium Wilcox AM/AOS — roses
Platanthera obtusata — smells like humans to attracts the local tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)
Pleurothallis cocornaensis — moldy socks
Pleurothallis ramulosa — sweet
Plocoglottis gigantea — fragrant, with a kind of clean laundry smell
Polystachya bella — fruity, “like Lemon Pledge”
Polystachya campyloglossa — bananas, strawberries
Polystachya cultriformis — lily-of-the-valley, lime blossoms
Polystachya Darling Star — floral
Polystachya fallax — jasmine, tropical fruit
Polystachya mazumbaiensis — rose, gardenia
Polystachya pubescens — honey
Prosthechea fragrans — honey, vanilla, gardenias, magnolias, lilac, lemon honey
Potinara Burana Beauty ‘Burana’ HCC/AOS — citrus, citrus blossoms
Potinara Free Spirit ‘Lea’AM/AOS — sweet floral
Potinara Twentyfour Carat ‘Lea’ AM/AOS — vanilla
R Rangaeris amaniensis — lily-of-the-valley, lily
Rhyncholaelia digbyana — lily-of-the-valley, lemon
Rhyncholaelia glauca — rose, lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen
Rhyncholaeliocattleya George King ‘Serendipity’ AM/AOS — sweet citrus, vanilla
Rhyncholaeliocattleya Ports of Paradise ‘Emerald Isle’ — citrusy, “like Jean Nate cologne”
Rhynchorides Bangkok Sunset — refreshing floral
Rhynchostylis coelestis — citrus, unperfumed soap
Rhynchostylis gigantea Sagarik Strain — citrus
Rhynchostylis gigantea var. alba — citrus
Rhynchostylis gigantea — citrus
Rhynchostylis illustre — citrus
Rhynchostylis retusa — citrus
Rhynchovanda Colmarie ‘Merlot’ — grapes
Ronnyara Manuel Ugarte ‘H & R’ — sweet floral
S Satyrium foliosum — quinces
Satyrium neglectum — sweet
Satyrium odorum — a clove to lemon scent
Schoenorchis fragrans — sweet
Schoenorchis gemmata — sweet
Sedirea japonica — clean and fresh lemon fragrance, rose
Sigmatostalix radicans ‘HMO’s Petite Prince’ — honey
Smitinandia micrantha — citrus flowers
Sobennikoffia humbertiana — spice, sweet Honeysuckle
Sophrolaeliocattleya Haw Yuan Star ‘Pink Lady’ — sweet, floral
Spathoglottis deplanche — fragrance of grape soda
Stanhopea candida — sweet, wintergreen
Stanhopea cirrhata — Vicks
Stanhopea connata — mothballs, “the scent is very complex and multi-layered. One can smell many spices and herbs, heavy aroma’s and almost buttered fragrances”
Stanhopea costaricensis — very sweet, cloves, baby powder, spicy, “camphor scented when it first opens and later it is a combination of camphor and cinnamon”
Stanhopea deltoidea — tangy and sweetly spicy
Stanhopea ecornuta — fresh floral, cinnamon
Stanhopea embreei — vanilla creme icing, chocolate, herbal and sweet, a mixture of sweet witch hazel and fresh basil, or a nice herbal liqueur like Becherovka, tangy and sweetly spicy
Stanhopea frymirei — “complex mixtures of floral, culinary and resinous scents”
Stanhopea gibbosa — “Eucalyptus, menthol, and pine mixed together”
Stanhopea grandiflora — jasmine, “composed mostly of benzyl-acetate (wintergreen), with smaller amounts of limonene (citrus) and cineole (camphor)”
Stanhopea graveolens — naphthalene, sweet cinnamon, like “mothballs” – strong, penetrating and long-lingering
Stanhopea hernandezii — “a mixture of vanilla, herbs, peppermint, and cinnamon”
Stanhopea inodora — mostly odourless and true to its name inadora, meaning non-fragnant, but may have a light lemony fragrance
Stanhopea impressa — “similar to basil and is slightly herb-like, but with an undertone of moth balls”
Stanhopea jenischiana — cinnamon, fruity, “a warm fruity-floral scent lacking the tangy licorice component belonging to S. embreei”
Stanhopea nigripes — “a rather heady mixture of eucalyptus and camphor mixed with vanilla”
Stanhopea nigroviolacea — vanilla
Stanhopea nigroviolacea ‘Aztec Gold’ — chocolate
Stanhopea oculata — chocolate, mint, chocolate mint with vanilla, vanilla mixed with mint and a hint of cocoa, chocolate peppermint patty candy
Stanhopea oculata (gold form) — Eucalyptus-like, camphor-like
Stanhopea oculata (purple spot form) — chocolate peppermint with a slight infusion of camphor
Stanhopea panamensis — pleasant, “a faint lily scent at first, almost like an Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) or Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba). Later as the flower matures it has a mixture of lily and clove fragrance, but faint”
Stanhopea pulla — lemon-lime candy, cool minty, citrus
Stanhopea reichenbachiana — jasmine
Stanhopea ruckeri — light cinnamon, like Hot Tamales candy
Stanhopea ruckeri var. alba — “a slight fresh baked bread scent mixed with lily”
Stanhopea saccata — cinnamon, camphor with a bit of cinnamon
Stanhopea shuttleworthii — mothballs, expensive perfume, “first smelling similar to vanilla when the flowers first open, later a combination of sweet mothballs and a light lemon scent”, lemon meringue
Stanhopea stevensonii — sweet but rather chemical-like, sweet grass with trace amounts of fresh pine needles
Stanhopea tigrina — sweet
Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea — heady vanilla/candy
Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea ‘Glory of Mexico’ — chocolate and vanilla, but with a slight mothball fragrance as the flowers age
Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea ‘Predator’ — chocolate and vanilla
Stanhopea tricornis — jasmine
Stanhopea wardii — jasmine, floral hand soap, candy, chocolate, “intense lemon/citrus at first. After the flowers have been open for a few hours the fragrance lessens to a tart lime fragrance similar to crushed lime leaves. It is a very pleasant and clean fragrance”
Stelis pusilla — sweet
T Thunia marshalliana — orange
Trichocentrum albococcineum — floral
Trichocentrum Nathakhun — honey
Trichocentrum tigrinum — lily-of-the-valley
Trichoglottis philippinensis — ripe or baked apple
Trichoglottis philippinensis ‘Pololei’ — ripe apple
Trichoglottis wenzellii — sweet
Trichopilia fragrans — narcissus
Trichopilia suavis — floral, intoxicating, roses
Tuberolabium kotoense — floral, Old Spice
Tuberolabium odoratissium — sweet
V Vanda Chao Praya ‘Violet’ — violets mixed with a dash of spice
Vanda coerulescens — like grape bubblegum, concord grapes
Vanda cristata — floral
Vanda dearei — vanilla, cinnamon
Vanda denisoniana — sweet, “like waterlilies in essence, anisic, fresh, sweet, somewhat “piney-herbal” with an Ylang Ylang nuance (methyl benzoate, methy salicylate, benzyl acetate and salicylate…)”
Vanda falcata — jasmine, vanilla
Vanda falcata ‘Kinrokaku’ — “a brilliant and pleasant scent reminiscent of aspects of gardenia, honeysuckle and vanilla”
Vanda lilacina — artificial grape flavour
Vanda Memoria T. Iwasaki — baby oil
Vanda Mimi Palmer — beautiful perfume
Vanda Pat Delight — ripe grapes
Vanda roeblingiana — sweet
Vanda tesselata — grapes, lilac, “floral smell, with hints of mulberry and guava”
Vanda tricolor — vanilla
Vanda tricolor var. suavis — vanilla
Vandachostylis Lou Sneary — vanilla candy
Vandachostylis Lou Sneary ‘Blue Moon’ — jasmine
Vandachostylis Lou Sneary ‘Pinky’ AM/AOS — vanilla, candy
Vanilla planifolia — vanilla
Vascostylis Crownfox Red Gem — citrusy
Vascostylis Tham Yuen Hae ‘Blue Queen’ HCC/RSPC, JC/AOS, HCC/AOS — jasmine
W Woodwardara Adelaide — sweet
Z Zygocolax — sweet
Zygoneria — hyacinth
Zygoneria Freestyle Meadows x Zygoneria Dynamite ‘Meg’ — overpowering, sweet, blossomy and heady
Zygopetalum Artur Elle ‘Tanzanite’ AM/AOS — hyacinths, violets, sweet perfume
Zygopetalum BG White ‘Stonehurst’ HCC/AOS, AM/AOS — hyacinths, violets, sweet perfume
Zygopetalum blackii — hyacinths
Zygopetalum crinitum — spicy-floral, narcissus
Zygopetalum intermedium — rose, lilac
Zygopetalum mackayi — hyacinth, narcissus, perfume
Zygopetalum maxillare — floral
Zygopetalum Redvale ‘Fire Kiss’ — hyacinth
Zygopetalum — sweet

The Bad Smell
Stink and Stench

Could you stand the body-buried-under-the-stairs stench of Bulbophyllum carunculatum?

B Bulbophyllum beccarii — rotting fish, “100 dead elephants rotting in the sun”
Bulbophyllum carunculatum — “a hot night at the fish markets”
Bulbophyllum cupreum — “the aftertaste of eating durian”, rotting salmon
Bulbophyllum echinolabium — carrion, rotten meat, “a dead rat stuffed into a dead fish and left in the sun for 3 days”, “a soiled baby diaper pulled up out of a pile of rotting fish”
Bulbophyllum grandiflorum — carrion
Bulbophyllum graveolens — urine, warm dog poop
Bulbophyllum helenae — smelly feet
Bulbophyllum immobile — “smells like sea water and is overwhelming for the size of the flower”, “a subtle fragrance of “wet dog””
Bulbophyllum medusae — fresh doggie poop
Bulbophyllum nympholitanum — “a public bathroom of a dysentery clinic”
Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis — carrion, “1000 dead fish rotting in the sun”
Bulbophyllum spiesii — carrion
Bulbophyllum tingabarinum — stink beetles
Bulbophyllum trigonosepalum — dog poop
C Cirrhopetalum graveolens — carrion
Cirrhopetalum ornatissimum — “whale oil, while the lip smells like fresh herring”
Coelogyne flaccida — dog pee, animal urine
Coelogyne ‘Unchained Melody’ — dog poop, cow dung, “over-ripe fruit that has gone off”
D Dracula chestertonii — fungus
E Eria hyacinthoides — carrion, “something nasty has died underneath the staging”
G Gongora grossa — fishy, stale, musty, sweaty gym clothes
L Liparis reflexa — “wet dogs”, “cat’s piss”
M Masdevallia triangularis — “a repugnant smell and may leave the tongue and nose with an unpleasant dumb sensation”
Masdie triangularis — musty, repugnant
Miltonidium Pupukea Sunset — “an overpoweringly strong soap scent mixed with hot garbage”
O Oncidium crispum — musty, “like cockroaches”
P Pescatoria cerina — “quite strong, somewhat musty and extremely unpleasant, though not all of the other people who were asked to smell it agreed with this. Some actually were delighted with the “fragrance,” some said the odor was not pleasant but it was very faint, and there were even some who could smell nothing at all.”
Pleurothallis cocornaensis — moldy socks
Phragmipedium caudatum — urine-like
S Satyrium pumilum — “mimics the odor of decomposition, specifically that of a decaying mammalian carcass.”, “The stench was dominated by three chemical compounds. The first, 2-heptamone, is known for its banana-like fruity odor. The second, p-cresol, is a prominent component in human sweat. And the third, indole, produces an intense fecal odor. Mixed together, they generate the reek of decay. Moreover, these same three compounds dominate the scent of a rotting mammalian carcass, the favorite fare of flesh-fly larvae.”
Stanhopea connata — “exudes cresole and indole. Cresole is the fragrance compound associated with coal tar (think freshly poured asphalt). And indole has a fragrance described in botanical literature as fecal.”

Posted by Gawler Districts Orchid Club Inc. on Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mick Talbot shared Gawler Districts Orchid Club Inc.’s note to the group: Queensland Orchid International. 21 January at 14:20 ·

Cattleya forbesii has a fragrance of bubble gumCattleya forbesii has a fragrance of bubble gum
Orchid Fragrances

Some of our orchids are beautiful, others interesting and then there are some that are hard to describe. Fragrance can be a consideration when it comes buying an orchid, It is for me. This subjective list of orchids and their fragrances might be of interest.

  • K-w SoundEagle Your Rhynchostylis coelestis is in superb form, Jesus, not to mention that the flowers’ lips are concentrating Barbara‘s favourite colour, namely, mauve. 🙂 13 August at 22:50 · Like · 1
  • K-w SoundEagle Hi Jesus, according to my scent registry at…/the-scents…/, Rhynchostylis coelestis smells like citrus, which is quite different to your scent description of “unperfumed soap”. I am intrigued and baffled. Could the scent of Rhynchostylis coelestis vary this much? What do you think, Michael? 13 August at 23:02 · Like · 1
  • Jesus M. Figueroa Vigo Close up of the flowers. 13 August at 23:24 · Unlike · 2
  • K-w SoundEagle Hi Jesus, I have included your scent description of “unperfumed soap” at…/the-scents…/

    Humour Your Nose with The Good Scent (Perfume and Fragrance) and The Bad Smell (Stink and Stench)… Yesterday at 15:17 · Like · Remove Preview
  • Jesus M. Figueroa Vigo About the scent and smell, is there a more scientific way of determining what smell an orchid hace? It’s very subjective what I smell and associate the smell with is rather subjective, if I never smelled a citrus I would not describe a smell as citrious. Is there a more nuetral unsubjective way of describing scents and smell. 19 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • K-w SoundEagle Hi Jesus, I am delighted that you have highlighted the subjective nature of scent perception. 18 hrs · Like
  • K-w SoundEagle Of course, it may not be entirely prudent for any of us to assume here that the scent variation of Rhynchostylis coelestis is entirely due to the subjectivity and variability of the human olfactory faculty, and not at all due to the variability of the scent of Rhynchostylis coelestis. Greg, would you have any experience on such matter? 18 hrs · Like · 1
  • K-w SoundEagle I have included the following paragraph at…/the-scents…/: Let it be acknowledged here that the scent description of any orchid species is dependent on not just the subjectivity and variability of the human olfactory faculty as well as sociocultural factors pertaining to the perceiver, but also the variability of the scent resulting from cultural, environmental and/or clonal factors pertaining to the orchid species.

    Humour Your Nose with The Good Scent (Perfume and Fragrance) and The Bad Smell (Stink and Stench)…
  • K-w SoundEagle Hi Craig! Just a quick note to inform you that there has been some interesting discussions here, and that your wisdom is welcome more than ever . . . . . 17 hrs · Like
  • Craig Scott-Harden Ok time to shine! The first and most efficient thing one could do in determining different scents, even though most impractical would be the purchasing of a mass spectrometer??? This naturally would allow different scents and smells, to be broken down to there chemical elements! This can then be shown in graph form as a visual display! Now barring a win in Powerball this is highly unlikely in its viability! So how does one describe the stated example of citrus! The art of verbal artistry I think is called upon! My example for citrus (Orange) hence forth would be “A sweet slightly spicy, with floral undertones, pungent even pervasive in its intensity odour, depending on strength it can be slow to dissipate, prevailing in the back of the nostrils whilst others may fade quickly!” Now I am aware that this is subjective so I will finish off by simple saying, “That the nose knows? It is up to us as individuals, and using life’s experiences to bring forth images starting from a blank canvas to create a complete landscape formed by our senses ,our minds eye and our human ability to communicate such things! This is what defines us above other life! 13 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 2
  • K-w SoundEagle Wow Craig, you really shine (and smell) with an unprecedented, scintillating intensity! Even a decent chef, wine connoisseur or perfume expert would approve of your scent and sensibility! 7 hrs · Edited · Like · 2

Based on Linet Hamman’s talk given at the LOG seminar in November 1999
Published by the South African Orchid Society

There are certain (cor)relations between scents and floral colours:

  1. White floral image — a soft fragrance : The white-floral scents incorporate the very pleasing scent notes of jasmine, tuberose, orange flower, honeysuckle etc. These flowers really are white in the majority of cases and release their scent mainly during the late evening or night. Most are pollinated by moths which use the scent and white colouring as pointers to the flower.
  2. Rosy floral image — a sweet, rosy smell almost like Turkish Delight : The scent of cyclamen, lily of the valley, sweet pea and rose identify this group. Sunlight and warmth trigger scent production.
  3. Yellow scents — strong, citrus-like freesia fragrance
  4. Brown scents — reminding of spices; cloves, coriander; caraway and cinnamon : Typical scent of a carnation.
  5. Green scents — a mossy, wet / forest scent
  6. Dark smells — mostly unpleasant; musty, stale socks
  1. Intensity — the strength of fragrance
  2. Diffuseness — the degree to which one can smell it from a distance
  3. Pleasantness — how pleasant or unpleasant the fragrance is
  4. Elegance — how well-rounded and perfumistic the fragrance is; chemical notes or thin fragrances are detractions
  5. Instant appeal — whether one likes it and how much

If you desire fragrant orchids you should find them in bloom and smell them directly.

The [defunct] list given is too vague and will result in your buying plants that are a disappointment.

The [defunct] list included Brassia, of which I raise hundreds and have never had one with a scent I could detect. Admittedly my sense of smell is not great, but others may be the same. Nobile Dendrobium are listed but I again raise hundreds and would not sell them as a fragrant orchid.

A good example of fragrant orchids is the most famous Onc. Sharry Baby, the chocolate orchid. It normally it has a very strong Hershey bar chocolate scent. I have 100 in bloom and the fragrance is almost missing. You have to stick your face in the plant to smell it. Normally you would be hit with scent when you walk into the shadehouse. These are large plants that bloom twice a year and when they bloom again in the winter the same plants will have a very strong scent. The heat of the summer is reducing the scent.

Orchids put out scent to attract insets to pollinate themselves. If the weather is not right for the insects to be on the prowl (like damp rainy days, summer heat, winter cold, almost anything for at least one orchid) the orchid does not waste its perfume.

It is also not uncommon for an orchid to have no scent one year and then be very fragrant the next.

Young orchids blooming for the first or second time often have no scent on a plant that is famously fragrant.

Back to my original suggestion to find them in bloom and smell them. Then do not be disappointed the next year if it skips a year from having its environment changed.

Fragrance variation with orchids

Pages: 1 2

Frowine, Steven A (2005). Fragrant orchids: A Guide to Selecting, Growing, and Enjoying. Timber Press, Portland, Or

10 thoughts on “The Scents and Smells of Orchids ❀👃✾

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  5. Well every time I read information less clear I have which are the most fragrant, now I have lots of species supposedly very fragrant, however I propose to list with a ten, regardless of the moment they emit the fragrance in order to clarify a Little more still this subject since the bibliography is not conclusive from my point of view, greetings and until soon


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