Boronia (Boronia Megastigma, Brown Boronia)
| Boronias generally grow in open forests and woodlands. They are only rarely found in rainforests or arid areas, though some unusual species have recently been described from the northwest of Western Australia.|
Boronia megastigma is a species of shrub in the citrus family known by the common name brown boronia. This is one of several species of Boronia cultivated for its intense, attractive scent. It is the main Boronia source of essential oils, while its relative Boronia heterophylla is more often harvested for use as an aromatic cut ornamental. Boronia Megastigma is a small shrub approaching a meter in maximum height. The narrow, thick, linear leaves are arranged in whorls about the thin stem branches. They are dark green and glandular, and are scented, but it is the flower of the plant which is coveted for its oils. All of the organs of the flower contain oil glands and their activity is greatest while the stigma is receptive to pollen, which suggests that production of scent may serve to attract pollinators such as insects. In the wild plant, each flower is about a centimeter wide and shaped like a cup which is brown or dark reddish-purple externally and bright yellow inside. There are several cultivated varieties which bear flowers of different colors. The two main aroma compounds of the oil of this species are β-ionone and dodecyl acetate. The oil is used in perfumes and as a food additive that enhances fruit flavors.
For flavor and fragrance use, the flowers of Boronia megastigma are collected, extracted, and concentrated into a waxy concentrate (a concrete) and then the concrete is re-extracted with alcohol, and concentrated to form Boronia absolute. The absolute is typically a dark green semi-fluid liquid that possesses a fruity, tea-like, slightly herbaceous odor. In perfumes, boronia is used in violet, mimosa and honeysuckle bases, while for flavors it adds body and naturalness to flavors such as raspberry, strawberry, peach, etc.
At one point in time, as many as 500 flower collecting stations were present in southwest Australia, where the flowers were collected from the wild, immersed in drums of petroleum ether and the drums sent to extraction stations (in Perth). This has been replaced with plantations that grow B.megastigma exclusively for production of the absolute. The best known of these is in Tasmania, an island off the southwestern tip of Australia.
Boronia absolute has a fresh, spicy, fruit-like scent with a rich, floral undertone. It is a rare and precious oil, and is used in high-end perfumery.
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