Holly Blossoms: A Heavenly Scent

If you live in the American south, you might notice holly trees blossoming in May or June.  Last week I sat on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC, and breathed in the scent of a flowering tree.  The holly blossom has a very sweet smell with enough of an edge to keep it from being cloying.  If perfumers have not bottled this, they should think about it.  It is a scent that flows through the air, and it makes me look for the tree when I smell it, the way I’ll look for magnolia blossoms or roses.  The tree outside my building has started to blossom this week and I’m looking forward to smelling its perfume for as long as it lasts.  Check out the hollies in your neighborhood.  You might discover what that lovely scent is that you’ve been noticing.

These are female blossoms on an American Holly.  The male blossoms are a bit more ornate.

These are female blossoms on an American Holly. The male blossoms are a bit more ornate.

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14 Responses to Holly Blossoms: A Heavenly Scent

  1. Hmmm… sounds divine. I’ll have to sniff a holly next time I meet a blooming one!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ellen Hawley says:

    The first time I lived around holly was when I moved to Britain, but–absurdly enough–I’ve never noticed the blossoms, only the berries. And now I’ll have to wait half a year to take a sniff. Sounds like it’ll be worth it, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tamaryck says:

    Mine are blooming now. I love the smell so much. I wait for this time every year. I wish they made perfume or candles in the scent.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. willedare says:

    I will be vigilant next spring… You have piqued my curiosity…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ali Erkekli says:

    It’s funny you should mention this. I’m a perfumer and I’d like to imitate the odor of holly in an upcoming fragrance of mine. I’m researching it and trying to find an accurate description of the odor.


    • arlingwoman says:

      It’s sweet and floral, but with an edge that keeps it from being cloying. It’s going to be holly blossom time soon, so when I smell them again, I’ll see if I can find words for the “edge” part of it. Better yet, get yourself to the part of the country they blossom in at the right time! Perfumers likely have their own terms, like vintners. I am talking about American Holly, so the range that I know is Virginia south through states east of the Appalachians…


    • arlingwoman says:

      Following up–Walking under some tulip magnolias, it occurred to me that the edge is a bit like the scent of green tea–the astringency balances the sweetness.


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