The main aromatic compound in lavender is linalool, which is also found in other flowers such as jasmine and bergamot. Linalool gives lavender its characteristic floral scent. But how does linalool actually produce this fragrance?
When linalool vapor molecules are inhaled, they bind to olfactory receptors in the nose. This triggers a signal that travels to the brain, where it is interpreted as lavender fragrance. Interestingly, linalool can have different effects on the brain depending on its concentration. At low concentrations, linalool has a calming effect, while at higher concentrations it can be stimulating. This explains why lavender oil is often used in aromatherapy to help people relax.
Lavender flowers also contain some other compounds that contribute to their fragrance, including geraniol and limonene. Geraniol is responsible for giving lavender its sweet, rose-like smell, while limonene adds a fresh, citrusy note. Together, these compounds create the complex and pleasing fragrance of lavender.
Next time you stop to smell the lavender, remember that there's a lot of science behind its wonderful fragrance! growers have carefully cultivated the plant's signature scent over many years by selecting plants with the right mix of aromatic compounds. so next time you enjoy the smell of lavender, take a moment to appreciate the complex chemistry that makes it possible.