DIY education IFRA ingredient Lily of the Valley natural synthetic

Lily of the Valley – mystery, manufacture & murder


Perfumery has always glorified the floral and for centuries perfumers
have sought ways to extract the essence from real flowers to incorporate into
their creations. With many flowers this quest has met with considerable
success, with a few commercially viable products produced that are still used
in modern perfumery: rose and jasmine being the primary examples. 
Lily of the Valleypicture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
One flower that has always eluded extraction is the Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) or Muguet*: distillation yields very little of an
unpleasant smelling oil not a bit like the dense, exotic scent of the fresh
flowers.  Solvent extraction and even modern CO2 extracts have similarly been completely unable to capture the
scent.  This is because the flower
produces the scent only at the point of release – none is stored in the flower
– so it cannot be extracted.  The
flower itself only contains pre-cursor chemicals from which the scent is formed
directly into the air.
Diorrissimo – picture from Basenotes
Yet many people will be familiar with the scent of Lily of the Valley,
not through smelling the fresh flowers, but from perfumes containing or
replicating its scent – perhaps the most famous of these being Diorissimo.  So, if you can’t extract the scent, how
is that done?

*Muguet is the French word for Lily of the Valley, a flower popularly used at weddings.  Lily of the valley is a  sweetly scented (and highly poisonous) woodland flowering plant that is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and in the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States.


Here we see how the chemist is the perfumers best friend: a
good number of materials have been discovered or created that replicate, at
least in part, the scent of these mysterious flowers.  Many people would say that synthetic Lily of the Valley
begins with the synthesis in the early part of the 20th Century of
Hydroxycitronellal: it’s difficult to be sure exactly when it was first used
because the nature of the material was kept a closely guarded secret.  What we do know is that as early as
1906 it was being made by Givaudan and sold under the trade name Laurine. 

Dr E Emmet Reid
Credited with re-discovering Hydroxycitronellal
Image from The Johns Hopkins University

At the outbreak of WWI it was being
manufactured in Germany and, as the war meant it ceased to be available,
efforts were made to find ways to make it that resulted in it’s being manufactured
in an American factory and, during the 20s, it gradually become well-known
within the trade.  Most perfumers
would agree that, while no one chemical can ever fully represent the scent of a
flower, hydroxycitronellal gives a very close facsimile to the aroma of the
fresh flowers of Lily of the Valley. 
Curiously enough however it does not appear to be present in that, or
any other natural flower scent.

I’m presenting in the sections at the end of this post, descriptions of
a selection of materials that replicate the scent of Lilly of the Valley, with
descriptions of their olfactory properties as well as, in many cases, the
restrictions on their use that have led to their decline.  These are mainly for the benefit of DIY
perfumers, but may also be of interest to perfumistas curious about
ingredients.  I’ve included quite a
few quotations from Steffen Arctander’s wonderful descriptions of aroma chemicals
rather less well known than his work on materials of natural origin – but just
as good.


Structure of Lyralimage courtesy Wikimedia Commons
So where does the murder come in? 
Well in one case a forthcoming ban by the European Union will, over the
next couple of years, result in the certain demise from perfumery altogether of
one of those materials.  The
material that is being killed off by the regulators is Lyral and although it’s
only going to be banned in the EU, that will very likely be reflected in a
prohibition by IFRA (the International Fragrance Association) and even if it isn’t all the major perfume manufacturers
will phase it out of use completely, so it will effectively vanish from the

After the jump you can read detailed descriptions of a range of materials used in connection with Lily of the Valley scents.

The Technical Stuff

The descriptions that follow are in alphabetical order by the name most
commonly used for the material. 
This isn’t a complete list of everything ever used for Muguet fragances,
but it does cover all the common materials with a clear muguet note as well as
one or two of the main modifiers.  Where applicable I’ve mentioned the IFRA limitation for alcoholic fine fragrances (not including aftershaves).
I’m indebted to many sources besides my own experience for this material, but primarily the already credited Arctander, the major manufacturers of the materials concerned and The Good Scents Company who maintain an excellent online database of perfumery materials, plus of course Wikimedia for the remaining images. 


CAS Number: 18127-01-0

Full chemical name:

Very powerful and
once widely used, this is one of the earliest Lily of the Valley chemicals.  This description is from Givaudan: “Odor:
Floral, Green, Muguet, Fresh, Powerful. 
Use: Bourgeonal is a powerful, diffusive fresh floral muguet, with a
watery green character. Its unique muguet-aldehyde character is extensively
used in toiletries and alcoholic fragrances.
Today its use is
limited by IFRA to 0.5% of the product


CAS Number: 103-95-7

Full chemical name:


Powerful and
versatile, the odour is described as: floral cyclamen, fresh, rhubarb, musty
and green. Unlike many aldehydes it is stable in most media and its
substantivity makes it very useful. 
Not quite as strong as some aldehydes it is still most often used in

Arctander describes it
as “Diffusive and powerful floral-green,
floral-stem like odor with pronounced vegetable
Cucumber-Melon-like notes. Overall resembling the odor of
Extensively used in perfumery for floral
effects, fresh-green-floral topnotes (of lasting fragrance), Useful in Lilac,
Lily, Peony, Magnolia, Orangeblossom, Alpine Violet, etc.
Blends well with the Ionones and all Rose


CAS Number: 30168-23-1

Full chemical name:


Givaudan product described by them as “Odor: Floral, Green, Muguet, Fresh.  Use: Dupical is a powerful, fresh,
transparent aldehydic muguet. It is a wonderful modifier and enhancer of the
muguet character in a fragrance. Thanks to its powerful performance, it can be
used in all applications.
aldehydic strength restricts the amount of this material that appears in
fragrances to 3% or (usually much less) of the concentrate.


CAS Number: 4602-84-0

Full chemical name:


The odour is described as a delicate, fresh,
green muguet note; mild, sweet, linden-floral and angelica but also as having
fruity and spicy aspects such as anise; apricot; balsam; clove; grapefruit;
oily; orange; peach; pear. 

Farnesol is one of the classic perfumery
ingredients and is present in many flowers and herbs from neroli to wild thyme.
Once reserved only for the most expensive fragrances it became more widely
available at the end of the 1960s when synthesis methods improved.

Recommended usage levels are from traces to
1.2% of the finished product (the IFRA limit for alcoholic fragrances).
Tenacity is impressive at around 16 days on a smelling strip meaning it is a
base note, but it has middle-note effects as well. It is stable in soaps and

Arctander recommends it as “an excellent background note and blender in the delicate floral such
as Muguet, Lilac, etc. or in the balsamic types, Oriental fragrances, Chypres
etc. It combines the softest woody notes of Orris with the sweet and balsamic
floral notes of Muguet, Rose, Magnolia, Acacia, etc. It blends excellently with
Ylang Ylang, Cassie, Rose, Violet, Neroli, Cyclamen, etc. and it is an almost
necessary ingredient in the so-called ‘Linden- blossom’ type fragrance.

Limited by IFRA to
1.2% of the finished fragrance.


CAS Number: 67634-15-5

Full chemical name:


Also called Ozone
Propanal and Florazon this is a powerful material, made by IFF (International
Flavors and Fragrances), and is described by them like this “Powerful, clean,
green, fresh air note reminiscent of ocean breezes. Gives lift to fragrances
without dominating due to its neutral nature“
Floralozone can be
used to give a subtle, fresh lift to almost any fragrance when used in small
amounts but it is especially useful in floral (especially Muguet) compositions
– use too much and the fragrance may become too ozonic however.   Used in moderation it is ideal
for adding a ‘fresh-air’ note to fragrances.


CAS Number: 125109-85-5

Full chemical name:


Also called Floral
Butanal this is a powerful material, made by Givaudan, and is described by them
like this “Floral, Green, Muguet, Fresh, Powerful. Florhydral has a very
floral, fresh, trendy, natural odour (such as lily-of-the-valley, hyacinth…).
Its great intensity and pleasant quality make it useful in all areas of
perfumery. Florhydral is also valuable in fragrances for laundry products where
a fresh residual odour is desired. Florhydral gives naturalness together with
aldehydes in citrus accords.”
A superb freshening
agent in any floral context, it exalts citrus very well and of course is ideal
where you need a Lilly of the Valley note that isn’t restricted by IFRA. 

Best used sparingly except in
Lilly of the Valley applications. 
Recommended usage is 0.2-2% and tenacity is a week on a smelling strip,
this material also works well in burning applications such as candles and joss


CAS Number: 1205-17-0

Full chemical name:


Also called ocean
this product was developed by IFF, who describe it like this: “Green,
floral (cyclemen) with top notes of ozone and new mown hay.
” I’m not sure they
are doing it justice – this is a lovely ingredient with a wonderfully fresh,
watery quality.

Helional is very easy to use, providing a
fresh, light quality.  It blends
well with other green notes and is one of very few such notes that can be used
fairly freely – unlike many green fragrance materials it isn’t so strong
that you have to use it with caution to avoid overdoing it.

Limited by IFRA to 5.3% of the finished fragrance, but that’s plenty to have a good impact.


CAS Number: 107-75-5

Full chemical name:


One of the best of the range of
synthetics used to recreate the scent of the Lily of the Valley (muguet).  Like most of the other materials that
imitate that flower it is an aldehyde. 
Hydroxycitronellal is widely regarded as the single most accurate
representation of the Lily of the Valley flower used in fine fragrance and
other areas and combines well with other floral and green materials.  The scent is described as having
sweet-floral perfume-like notes with green citrus and melon undertones.
Vintage versions of
fragrances such as Diorrisimo used large amounts of this material, but today its
use is limited by IFRA to 1% of the product.


CAS Number: 107-74-4

Full chemical name: 


Odour type is floral with a low odour strength
has a mild, clean, floral note and is very long lasting and closer to rose than
muguet, with aspects of lily and peony. 

Excellent fixative and essential
stabiliser for the better-known aldehyde (hydroxycitronellal).

Arctander gives more information:
“Very mild (weak) clean-sweet, floral odour of
considerable tenacity. The floral type is Rose-Peony, typically less green,
less Lily or Muguet than the aldehyde. 
He goes on to tell us that this alcohol, now often manufactured as an
intermediate in the production of Hydroxycitronellal, is used in perfume
compositions originally with the intention of stabilizing Hydroxycitronellal
and prolonging the odour life of that aldehyde in composition.
However, there are other uses for this alcohol,
not always obvious from a brief glimpse at the odour, which is, truly, not
immediately impressive. It has an excellent fixative effect upon many types of
delicate floral fragrance, and as a blender/modifier for other types.
The use of Hydroxycitronellol as a stabilizer
for Hydroxycitronellal is still practised, but the author finds that the
alcohol has much wider possibilities and virtues of its own as an odorant.


CAS Number: 80-54-6

Full chemical name:


One of a range of
synthetics used to recreate the scent of the Lily of the Valley (muguet).  Like most of the other materials that
imitate that flower it is an aldehyde. 
Lilial is widely used in fine fragrance and other areas and combines
well with other floral and green materials.  The scent is described as floral muguet, watery, green,
powdery and cumin.

Its use is limited
by IFRA to 1.9% of the product.


CAS Number: 31906-04-4

Full chemical name:


More Convallaria majalis, here with a suitably blood-red
background for the soon-to-be-murdered Lyral!
Synonyms include: cyclohexal, kovanol, leeral, mugonal, HICC, HMPCC
One of a range of
synthetics used to recreate the scent of the Lily of the Valley (muguet).  Like most of the other materials that
imitate that flower it is an aldehyde. 
Lilial is widely used in fine fragrance and other areas and combines
well with other floral and green materials.  The scent is described as floral muguet, watery, green,
powdery and cumin.

Its use is already limited
by IFRA to 0.2% of the product and it is about to be banned altogether by the
EU, which will almost certainly result in it vanishing from perfumer’s palettes


CAS Number: 68991-97-9

Full chemical name:

include: cyclemone A; cyclomugual; muguet carboxaldehyde

Odour type is
floral, with a medium odour strength: floral, clean, muguet, ozone, marine,
sandy and balsamic.

Manufactured by IFF
who say this of it: “A substantive floral
muguet product having the odour of fresh outdoors with a green, melony

Useful in a wide
range of fragrances to give a fresh lift as well as extremely helpful when
you’re trying to create a good Muguet and have run up against the IFRA limits
on the more widely used materials in this category as Melafleur has no
restriction and can form up to 15% of your concentrate if you wish.


CAS Number:  63767-86-2

Full chemical name:


Synonym: Muguet ethanol

Produced by Symrise,
this is another unrestricted alternative to the older Lily of the Valley
ingredients, described by them thus: “Odor:
light floral, reminiscent of muguet, with waxy elements

Particularly useful
because, being an alcohol, it is more stable than many of the others and has no IFRA restrictions.

Precyclemone B

CAS Number:  52474-60-9

Full chemical name:


Also called myrmac aldehyde this material is
manufactured by IFF, who describe it like this: “Clean, tenacious, ozone note with aldehydic warmth and diffusion.
Booster for fragrances requiring a fresh outdoors effect

Best used in small
amounts, this is a really excellent fresh-air ingredient. 
With Precyclemone B
you get a very long-lasting freshening effect that works exceptionally well in
citrus fragrances where you want to prolong the fresh feel beyond the life of
the short-lived citrus oils.  In traces
it can lighten almost any perfume, larger amounts can be used in
room-fresheners and marine compositions.


CAS Number: 6658-48-6

Full chemical name: 


Synonym: cyclamen homoaldehyde

Floral, green,
aldehydic and marine this is a powerful and very persistent ingredient
manufactured by Givaudan.  It is
ideal for use in Lily of the Valley fragrances and works well with other muguet
Givaudan describe it
like this: “Silvial is a powerful,
vibrant muguet ingredient with a slight citrus undertone and a fresh, aldehydic
touch that is used in perfumery in the same way as related muguet products
It is restricted by
IFRA to 1.04% of the finished alcoholic fragrance (in aftershaves the amount is
only 0.55%) though that’s plenty to give impact as this material is so powerful.


CAS Number: 81782-77-6

Full chemical name:


An unusual material,
also known as Violet Decenol, this is a brilliant ingredient for many floral
blends that helps to bring out the floral and fruity aspects of other

Description from Givaudan: “Undecavertol
was developed in connection with structural elucidation work on unknown trace
components of lily-of-the-valley. It has a powerful green-floral character,
somewhat related to lily-of-the-valley, with natural, fresh, fruity violet leaf
and linden-blossom aspects. It can be used successfully in rose and fruity pear
accords. Although easy to use in most perfumery types, Undecavertol requires
careful dosage and blending due to its exceptional strength

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To top