love it? hate it? let’s talk tuberose perfumes

tuberose I don’t think there’s a  floral note in perfume more divisive than Tuberose, do you?    There are factions of lovers, factions of haters, each with their flaming cudgels and those things they used to use to fling rocks ….oooh!  catapults (it’s late.  I’m slower than usual)…those who (gasp!) hate Carnal Flower and are not averse to giving the Stinkeye to anyone foolish enough to enter their airspace wearing Fracas.  The Carnal Flower contingent, proudly wearing the Beurre Exquise like chain mail, show a tubey-scented Finger as they spritz with abandon as the hatas choke on the fumes.  And so it goes….

I’m a Tuberose Lover.  I wear Carnal Flower – a LOT of Carnal Flower.  And I have 4 bottles of vintage Fracas, plus the shower gel, body lotion and dusting powder.  Our bedroom smells like a bordello, most nights.  But!  there is a …note…. in some of the Tuberose Perfumes…and I don’t know what it is, that gives my stomach the heebie-jeebies.  And so I come to you, darling Posse, to try to suss it out.    I’m going to list the ones I love and the ones that freak me out – and let’s see if we can figure out what that note is, shall we?


Loves:  Frederic Malle Carnal Flower.  Love the mentholated edge here – the eucalyptus cuts the butterfat Just So.  I would wear this every day if I didn’t love so many  other fragrances.  Clean, clear, cool tuberose.

Serge’s Tuberose Criminelle.  I didn’t have to try with this one at all.  Again with the menthol.  I think it’s like that glass of water you get alongside a perfect cup of hot chocolate.  You don’t think you need it but at the end of the cup you’re glad to tip that cold glass to your lips.

Fracas.  But only because I’ve been wearing it for so long –  it’s like that cashmere robe you really should throw out because it has a coffee stain you can’t quite get out and maybe a little moth hole..or two…but it’s still wonderfully, gorgeously soft and warm and…hey! it’s your robe.  And you love it.  And when it’s just you at home you wear it on a Friday night and order a whole bunch of Chinese food and eat like a pig and channel surf and who cares!   But I have to say, if I were starting from scratch right now I probably wouldn’t pick Fracas.

Vero Profumo Rubj.  Who knew?  Certainly not moi.  I was so much in love with  Onda and not really in love with Kiki…somehow Rubj got lost in the shuffle.  Well, Missy March took care of that.  I was  blown right out of my shoes at the beauty of this one.  So was she.  I can wear the living daylights out of a tubey.  This smells like sheer heaven on my skin.  I thought she was gonna bite me!  Another lush-but-clear tuberose.  Faintly chilly.

Arquiste Flor y Canto.  I was prepared to not like this but it’s a perfect tuberose for me.  Flowery, lush, just on this side of buttery.

tuberose perfumes


What all of those have in common is the absence of That Note.  I will describe it to you.  It’s like rancid butter and maybe a touch of pee?  But it’s not ‘bad’.  Just …unsettling.  The first time I smelled it was in I Profumi di Firenze Tuberosa Autonno.  I wrote a little about it here   in my Great White Fight post ( I am the Go-To Girl for Tuberose)  – it’s been described as a gateway to Tuberose Criminelle but I don’t see it.  Tubey Crim is cool and a bit slicey – Tuberosa Autonno is way warm and has a bit of that rancid bite to it, much like my pal here.   All my research for the notes gives me is:  Italian Tuberose. Well, thanks!


Serge’s Cedre.  It. Has. That. Note.  What the hell IS that note.  Messes up an otherwise excellent scent.

Skirting the edge of That Note (and the reason for this post):  Andy Tauer’s Majestic Tuberose soap.  I got it as a gift.  Sniffed it.  Jumped back – ‘that note!’ – but decided to give it a try – aha!  in the shower, That Note got washed away – but not completely.  There’s enough left to make the soap …….interesting.   And…wait.  It’s Beautiful!  Hmmm…  Fracas soap isn’t interesting…maybe I need just a touch of That Note?  But only in the soap.    I have not smelled Loretta – talk to me, people!

The other skirt:  Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Tubereuse.  Dang.  soooo close…hey, wait a minute.  Do I smell coconut?  Maybe that’s the note?  Coconut?   or does tuberose actually smell of coconut and in particular scents there’s just more coconut than in others?  I feel like I’m in Chinatown (the movie)

L’Artisan La Chasse Aux Papillons.   Right on the edge.  It’s not got that rancid note (lord that sounds awful – but I can’t come up with another word for it) but it feels like it might want to, if you got on its nerves enough….


Do you guys think it might be coconut?  I’m not a huge fan of coconut in fragrance – it’s …oooh!  you know what?  That is the very same note that’s in Sand and Sable (can you tell I am typing this as it comes spilling out of my sieve-like brain.  This is what chatting with me is like, which is why Caller ID is so important!)…….I just thought of that.  Awhile back I wrote a review of Sand and Sable, which I love…but it has That Note.  As if you just put your Hermes beach towel down near a spot where somebody took a whizz…..yesterday.    And guess what?   It’s a Tuberose!  It smells very similar to Autonno but I give S&S a pass because  it’s from my wild youth.  Though I can’t wear it anymore than I can wear Autonno.


Help!  What. Is. That. Note?

  • mim666 says:

    Thanks for this post! Loved reading through all the comments. Especially about why we smell different things in the same note or perfume (butyric acid–cool! thanks Lily). No idea about the bad note though.

    I used to be firmly in the hater camp. Viscerally and intensely hated all white flowers in perfume: ylang-ylang, tuberose, neroli, jasmine, gardenia and orange blossom. Love real gardenia but not perfume-gardenia. Tuberose and ylang always made me nauseated, and jasmine smelled ugly (I had inherited a couple of jasmine oils and read about how jasmine was supposed to be super-beautiful but ugh. no.)
    Then I found ‘gateway scents’. Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom was delicate and soft and pretty, and then jasmine: Yin Hao green tea, then back to my sample of L’artisan The Pour Un Ete, and it was like whoa, who put all that pretty there? After these I could appreciate the note in other perfumes more.

    Thought I’d hate tuberose forever, though, because the hate was a strong physical reaction, but I won Ayala Moriel’s Etrog (lovely and sunny) and she threw in a sample of Treazon. It has a spearmint/camphor opening which I love, which threads through the whole scent, and then it get soft and billowy and sweet and *beautiful*–also has something that smells buttery the way fresh raw coconut does, with the ‘texture’ of real gardenia blossoms.
    After this I smelled those meh By Killian scents and could actually enjoy the white floral one! But don’t like them enough to try again, whereas Treazon keeps drawing me back…. Wearing some now. Still beautiful, and makes me forget it’s February.

    Still don’t think these scents are the most ‘me’ but enjoy wearing them, and also like expanding what ‘me’ includes–soft pretty femme side too.

    I highly rec Treazon to lovers and haters. Nothing else made me give tuberose a second sniff. Especially not Fracas.

  • dissed says:

    Sounds like what I call the Dirty Hair note, which I smell in a couple of fig scents.

  • poodle says:

    I love tuberose but I must say that Rubj was challenging. I’m starting to love it but the first time I tried it all I got was sweaty cumin, naughty bits, and a tiny touch of white florals. I’m stunned when everyone talks about what a beautiful floral scent it is because on me it’s total dirty girl. It doesn’t have “that note” in it for me that you refer to either but I think I know the note you are talking about. I get it in other tuberose scents. To me it’s similar to ElizabethC’s description of bad buttercream icing. I don’t think it’s a certain note but rather the type of tuberose used in the perfume that has “that note”.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Poodle! I’m right there with you on Rubj. On paper, it sounded so perfect, but on my skin, well, that cumin practically jumped up and bit me. I’m envious of those who can wear it well.

  • Martha says:

    Ooh. I love tuberose, but don’t have tons of experience with it. I wore Fracas for years though I have to admit…sometimes it gave me a major headache. These days I love Carnal Flower. Yum. Somebody mentioned that orange blossom can be a little icky. I agree with that. There is something faintly nauseating about it. I used to adore Florida Water when I was a little girl. It’s hard to figure.

  • masha7 says:

    You’ve got me very curious here, Musette! I only like a couple of tuberose perfumes. Vamp a NY, which does have some butter note in there, Songes, Beyond Love, and a traditional Indian attar compounded entirely of tuberose and vetiver. That’s it for me. I’m not sure which note bothers you, because, as with cilantro, people with different genetic olfactory profiles smell tuberose differently. Some get more butter, some more rubber, and some, ahem…naughty bits…. I think that’s why it’s such a polarizing floral. Most people “get” roses in the same way. But not tuberose! And ditto gardenia- some get only the bleu cheese factors, others, the rotten poop notes, others, the glorious floral aspects. Weird, huh?

    • Musette says:

      Arrrgh! on the gardenia. I get alll the baddies. The cheese. The poop. The poopy cheese. What? What traditional Indian attar? You KILL me with those. KILL!


  • ElizabethC says:

    Are you talking about the note that always reminds me of the greasy coating on your tongue that you get after eating really bad/pre-made cake icing? Isn’t it amazing how a single note can trigger such a specific taste memory 🙂

    • Musette says:

      OMG! THAT TASTE! ew. My ears hurt just thinking about that! But no. I don’t think so. Though now you’ve got me thinking…

    • Dina C. says:

      Oh yeah! Cheap “buttercream” frosting made with Crisco instead of butter. That’s when I leave the frosting on the plate and just eat the cake. 🙂 Nasty stuff!

  • Connie says:

    As far as tuberose goes, I’m a Fracas devotee. I packed a sample of it with me on a trip this past summer and when I smelled it again a few months later it brought back all the memories! Carnal Flower, on the other hand, is something I just can’t get behind. Prior to reading this I thought anyone who would choose Carnal Flower over Fracas must be crazy.

  • Tiara says:

    Having read through all of the comments, I’m still wondering that that note is! Tuberose isn’t one of my most favorite notes but I like it best in Nuit de Tubereuse where it’s sort of tucked in softly and doesn’t scream.

  • Melis says:

    Love Tuberose! I really enjoy TC, Chasse aux Papillons and PC Tub/Gar. As well as Treazon by Ayala Moriel, a natural tuberose perfume that is absolutely beautiful. I also love Rubj but it is more orange blossom with a hint of tuberose to me. I do struggle with Fracas due to the buttery note.

  • Lily says:

    And one more try: tuberose naturally contains butyric acid, and, depending on the concentration and your threshold of perception, butyric acid smells like rancid butter. A tuberose reconstruction would likely contain in some percentage butyric acid. Fracas definitely contains butyric acid, so does No.5. But I don’t get rancid butter there at all. So maybe high concentrations of butyric acid in conjunction with other compounds, and then in combo with some skin that loves to volatilize it and voila?

    So does Gris Clair have a lot of butyric acid? Does Cedre? Anyone want to run a GC?

    • FeralJasmine says:

      This is so interesting. The “rancid nuts” note that I detect to one degree or another in tuberose absolutes may not be butyric acid as such but a compound molecule formed with something else in the absolute. Perfume is endlessly interesting.

  • Lily says:

    My comment vanished! If you find it in the ether, repost – it was better written than the following. That said,

    Trying again:

    Your description of the bad note in Cedre sounds exactly like my encounter with a “sweet rancid fat” accord in Gris Clair. Both are Lutens and while I haven’t tried Cedre on skin, it sounds spot on – I get this effect on skin only, mind you; on paper I rather love Gris Clair.

    I always though the “rancid fat” accord was a particular type of aromachemical used in some Lutens to create a warm amber effect. Most ambers don’t do this for me, but an amber accord can be achieved any number of ways, and I think one of these is your culprit.

    Adding an amber note is one way to make tuberose divalicious. Amber is listed as a primary note in Cedre. Fracas has no rancid fat – and no amber. If you haven’t lately, do try Gris Clair on skin, wait two hours, and report back. If the culprit note is there, it’s an amber. And you are one of the lucky people with a skin-type that teases out of it the days-old bacon drippings and butter fat.

    Were it to be combined with coconut, I would fear for the worst.

  • maggiecat says:

    This was fun to read, because I have a very similar response to jasmine. I LOVE jasmine and jasmine-centered perfumes. Except when I don’t, when even a whiff makes me run screaming. I have no idea what That Note is, but I know it exists. And it may have something in common with tuberose because I am – alas!- one of those who absolutely can’t stand tuberose. Can’t. Stand. Even a little. It makes me recoil involuntarily. I regard this as a personal flaw and a tragedy, because there are so many wonderful perfumes out there with tuberose (Joy!), but there it is. Sigh. 🙁

    • tammy says:

      Now, see there, I had no idea the dreaded T-note was in Joy and I have been wearing it since I was three years old, so what’s that, 46 years now? Mind you, all I really get is jasmine; I don’t get much else at all.

  • shaney says:

    Tuberose is a CANNOT for me! I’m super-interested in the “rancid” note, though, and now I’m wondering if I might be willing to give Carnal Flower another try…I had sampled it after securing my distaste for Fracas, but maybe I’m inclined now…it’s been long enough!

  • tammy says:

    Firmly in the Hater-with-a-Flaming-Cudgel faction here. And I am not sure if it’s the actual scent, or the fact that it makes my throat all scratchy. I don’t care for the scent at all, but it doesn’t repulse me like strong musks do.

    Orange blossom has a similar effect, though not as bad. And now that I think about it, the prickly sensation with orange blossom is more in my nose, whereas the tuberose definitely catches in the back of my throat. (It’s enthralling insights like these that make me such a valued contributor to the Posse, I just know it.)

    Both notes are very suffocating to me.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I find that tuberose is overwhelming to me, hence why I don’t wear it. And I can’t find a really good gardenia perfume because tuberose can be very overwhelming in that.

    • Musette says:

      Maria Candida Gentile did a gorgeous gardenia – Lady Day. No mention of tuberose therein and I don’t smell it therein, either. I hate gardenia. I like this gardenia. (not shilling for StC but that’s where I got it). xoxoA

  • fleurdelys says:

    I used to abhor tuberose. Just removing the cap from a bottle and taking a tentative sniff caused me to recoil with the “yuck” expression on my face (I think it’s that rancid butter note). But it has…grown on me. As my sense of smell has grown more refined, I’ve *learned how* to smell certain notes. Know which perfume did it for me? Truth or Dare! Go figure! But then Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia started smelling good to me, then Fracas, and even the mentholated Tubereuse Criminelle didn’t turn me off. I also like L’Artisan’s Nuit de Tubereuse, which is not strictly a tuberose fragrance. It’s an oddball containing everything but the kitchen sink – fruits, spices, woods – but also tuberose. Somehow it all works. I also like Histoire de Parfums’ Tubereuse 3 Animale.

    • Musette says:

      Truth or Dare was your gateway? I will have to resniff that. I remember being overwhelmed by the hype and underwhelmed by the scent – but I’d like to see what it was that cracked open the Tubey Door for you!


  • malsnano86 says:

    Sister Tubey Ho here, checking in – you know, it’s funny, we overlap on a lot of our tuberose scents, and then others we have opposite feelings about, and I can’t really figure why. Something different with each one, maybe. As I’ve mentioned maybe a zillion times, I had the horrible misfortune to have cleaned out my fridge a day or two before I tried Tubby Criminal, and the meaty note in it echoed the forgotten package of raw chicken so closely that I. just. cannot. Just can’t. (NO, NOnonono, do not go looking for that decaying-raw-chicken. You will find it, and then you will curse me. Once smelled, it cannot be un-smelled.) And Vamp a NY is such a trashy beach novel of a scent – I love it.

    Adore Carnal Flower. Liked Tuberosa d’Autonno. Can’t do Fracas, but in my case that’s because there’s so much orange blossom in it that it goes soapy on me. (Hey, I don’t think I’ve ever asked – what’s your experience with the old Lagerfeld Chloe, that big tuberosy bouquet sitting atop a woody-mossy base? That one I wore all through my teens, so of course I can’t really wear it now due to emotional connections, but it still smells gorgeous. The vintage stuff, anyway.)

    I think FeralJasmine is onto something here with the “slightly rancid nuts” angle. I didn’t like Mona’s Tubereuse either – it seemed muddy and strange to me. I will point out that the “bubble gum” thing is probably that chemical that occurs naturally in tuberose and jasmine which, isolated and used commercially, gives an artificial “grape” flavor to innumerable candies and, yeah, bubble gum, and which makes so many Americans roll their eyes at a number of non-artificial tuberose scents. I don’t think it’s that which is ooking out your stomach, but it is definitely present in Tuberosa d’Autonno so I can see why you’d wonder.

    You really need to try Loretta; if you can’t get your hands on any I’ll send you a scrab. I am still on the fence with that one – it’s almost Poison-like with its dark fruit and tuberose, but it’s also this huuuuuuuge camphory patch-bomb, which is of course danger territory for me. I can’t say whether I like it or not, but it is fascinating and unsettling and sometimes I crave it.

    • Musette says:

      LOL! on the chicken! Been there. Too many times. I will get some Loretta from StC and check it out!

      I wore Chloe – everyone in my office did! I can still smell it but don’t remember the tuberose – I just remember…you know what? I don’t remember the persack smell…I remember….I think I’m remembering everything around the scent. I’m going to revisit that one.

      You like Vamp? I so tried to like Vamp. Alas…. xoxo

  • FeralJasmine says:

    I like to fool around with essential oils and absolutes, and have found that most tuberose absolutes have some degree of a note that I think of as “slightly rancid nuts.” Some have only a little of it and are very beautiful, some have a lot. I have also noticed that imitation tuberose scents have none of this note at all and therefore smell very artificial. I wonder if what you’re smelling is an inherent quality of the absolute, but scents made with the less expensive absolutes have too much and gross you out. I share your likes and dislikes among tuberose scents almost exactly, and one of the reasons that I dislike Mona’s tubereuse so much is that I think she was playing with that note in the absolute and accentuating it for fun. It’s different all right, but neither pretty nor wearable. Next time you’re around any perfume supplies, try sniffing (cautiously!) some undiluted absolute and see if that’s the note that you never want too much of.

    • Musette says:

      that sounds like an excellent idea! I’m going to have to revisit Mona’s tubey, with your hypothesis in mind!


      • FeralJasmine says:

        I’ll be interested to hear what you think. I’ve been told that people “grow into” Mona’s tuberose, and if that’s true, I’m a perfume juvenile. Just can’t get it. But hey, it may just mean that I’m a tuberose cretin.

  • Jan Last says:

    Just last night I was working on my smelling notes with samples from Surrender to Chance. I had an encounter with Ramon Monegal Kiss My Name, which I am now calling The Attack of the 50 Foot Tuberose. Just to make sure I wasn’t giving it the thumbs down for no reason, I wore it to bed, then an hour later got up and showered. Checked reviews, and all the listed notes say I should love this. NOT.

  • Ann says:

    Hey, lady! Great post. I’m with Sherri above that it may be the bubble-gum note. There’s something about so many tubes that make them unwearable for me as well. You mentioned coconut, but our beloved Carnal Flower has a good dollop in it, so I wonder if it might be something else, or perhaps that “something else” that mixes with the coconut to turn you off.
    BTW, please, please — you gotta quit using that pic of Ms. Jaws anymore — creeps me out something fierce and gives me the heebie-jeebies every time I see it. I was growing up on the wild east coast of Florida when “Jaws” came out, and I’ve never been the same since, ha!

  • Christine W says:

    I also have a problem with a certain note in some tuberose fragrances. It’s a weird, rubbery/female sexual smell that I call the “recently used condom note” (sorry to be so graphic!). I don’t think it’s the same note as what you’re smelling, because I find it quite prominent in Fracas (not so much at first, but as it ‘blossoms’ with body heat). Not something I want to waft in public. Chasse aux Paps, Truth or Dare and Goutal’s Gardenia Passion almost approach ‘that’ note, but it’s tempered by mild mentholation (and seemingly erased by the menthol in Tuberose Criminelle). Some tuberose scents which, to my nose, seem quite free of ‘that’ note are Caron’s Tubereuse, Cedre, the original Chloe and the original Oscar. Unfortunately I’m not familiar with Carnal Flower, but next time I see it in a store I’ll give it a sniff to see if it’s really as carnal as its label.

    • Ann says:

      Christine, I think you might be onto something there. Fracas, Beyond Love and Vamp all had it for me: an almost oily, rubbery, rancid (there, I said, too!) note that makes me go “yuck.” The menthol you mention does seem to make a difference and helps to cancel out that note.

  • linda says:

    i so agree about la chasse…..just precipitously on the end of being too much, but it always stays within the boundaries of not being cloying. but i never trust it to do so!

  • Dina C. says:

    Back in college a dear friend gifted me a slightly used bottle of Fracas, and I loved it. Wore it from time to time over the next several years until it was gone. But once it was gone, I had no desire for more. Nowadays, I find I like tuberose when it’s given a non-Fracas kind of treatment. I really like LAP Nuit de Tubereuse, which has a spicy fruitiness to it. Someone said it reminded them of Juicy Fruit gum, and I can see that. I also really like LAP La Chasse — that whole spring garden thing.

    As for coconut, there’s some in LAP Premier Figuier Extreme, which I love and own, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t really notice it much. It’s not in the foreground, rather in the background.

    • Musette says:

      I’m wearing La Chasse today, in honor of this post. It’s gorgeous. But I’ve had it on for 8 hrs – a LOT of it , btw – and I confess to being sick of it now. That never happens with Carnal Flower. sigh.

  • Sherri says:

    Hmmm, I get the coconut in the MdO, but never in La Chasse. The only note I can think of that they have in common is that “bubble-gum” tuberose thing. You know, like in Vamp and the Miller-Harris tuberose. Could that be what is upsetting you? Thanks for this article…love playing “detective”. 🙂

  • dinazad says:

    Now tuberose….. I hate it. Carnal Flower is like being beaten to death by a giant bouquet. Fracas a cashmere robe? HA! It has poisoned spikes (well – with the exception of the extrait, which is soft and beautiful). Other tuberoses are avoided zealously. BUT… I love Rubj, which is possibly because I get mostly orange blossom from it – it’s like riding a magic carpet through a clear and wide sky with a bazaar and maybe a tuberose faaaaar below. I rather like Cedre. And Loretta (which is to me a bit like a photograph of your mother in her youth – which suddenly makes you see how beautiful she still is). And tuberose absolute (which I got to smell at Andy Tauers last pre-Christmas get-together) is actually rather wonderful (so’s the soap). Sooooo …. tuberose is to be approached with caution (maybe I need that note you hate?) And keep that giant bouquet away from me!

    • Musette says:

      LOL! I know you hate it like a mongoose hates a snake. I can’t comprehend it. Then again, I faint at the thought of gardenia! xo

  • bryangarwood says:

    There is no note/flower I love more than tuberose. We are scent twins to say the least. Right down to the “note”. I do think it’s coconut or some other syrupy/sugary mess. I am so addicted to tuberose that I can stand this note just long enough to get my fix. I think it’s in PG T Couture too. I like that scent….and then I need a break…the rush of cold water as you put it perfectly.
    Carnal Flower and Serge’s TC are my desert island tubes….and Beyond Love for the buttery note. I like Fracas and wear it, but I don’t adore it. Yeah…scent twins for sure.

  • rosarita says:

    Hey Ms A, just stopping by to say hi. You know I just Can’t with tuberose, or rather she just Can’t with me. The flowers smell so beautiful. Hope you get that coconut pee thing figured out.

  • shylotus says:

    Yes! I don’t know if what I’m smelling in a certain Tuberose isn’t “right” for me, or just a bit too…much. I am crazy about Fracas, Carnal Flower, Estee Lauder T&G, and Mona di Orio’s Tubereuse. I thought, then – logically – that I’d love Beyond Love. I can’t go near it. I just now re-read the notes. It has coconut in it. Perhaps you’re on to something!!
    Looking forward to hearing what the Posse has to say.