The Aroma of Roses

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  • Published: 14 February 2018
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
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Red roses are a traditional Valentine's Day gift. The flowers are not only pretty but also fragrant. Extracts of their petals are used in perfumes, and rose water can also be used to flavor foods.

A range of compounds is responsible for the smell of roses, often in very small concentrations:


  • Alcohols such as geraniol, which is used in fruit flavorings, and citronellol, which is used to repel mosquitos
  • geraniol citronellol

  • So-called "rose ketones", e.g., β-damascenone and β-ionone, which are used in perfumes
  • β-Damascenone β-Ionone

  • Terpenes such as rose oxide, which has a very small odor threshold of 0.5 parts per billion
  • rose oxide

Also of Interest

Chemistry of Rose Pigments,
ChemViews Mag. 2014.

The color of a rose, the most popular flower on Valentine's Day, is determined by chlorophylls, flavonoids, and carotenoids

Chemistry for Valentine's Day,
ChemViews Mag. 2015.

The red rose remains the most popular flower to give on Valentine's Day and chocolate is always a good idea

Red Rose Pigments, 2017.

The red rose is the traditional Valentine's Day flower – where does the color come from?


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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies)published by Wiley-VCH