The wonderful aroma of... bamboo?

This past Christmas we received a nice gift of some scented candles. I'm not a candle fanatic like some people, but I really do love some of these "flavors" -- and I have to call them "flavors" because they're usually so strong they fill my entire head.

I don't know if the "bamboo" scent was chosen specifically for me (the person who gifted me has never visited my garden) or if it was a happy coincidence. I was eager to find out what they thought bamboo smells like.


You see, in my experience, bamboo doesn't have much of a scent at all. Some of the species release a faint fragrance if you rub the culms (canes), but it usually just smells like generic green leaf, or a bit wood-like.

In fact, if you asked me to make a list of plants in my garden that have the most fragrant foliage, bamboo wouldn't even get consideration. My list would probably be:

  • Agastache
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Fennel

I would at some point mention:

  • Freshly-mown turf grass
  • Pine

If you made me rank all of the foliage based on fragrance I would eventually get down to the stinky genus:

  • Salvia

Then the bottom of the list would be every plant that just smells like "leaf" to me, or is scentless:

  • Colocasia
  • most trees and shrubs
  • bamboo

So the thought of a "bamboo" scented candle was intriguing.

Let's pop the lid and sample the exotic scent...

Cough, cough, gasp, wheeze!!

It smells like old-fashioned perfume! Strong old-fashioned perfume. My bamboo certainly doesn't smell like that!

Let's find out what's going on here...

Gardenia, jasmine, lavender, lilac, and rose. Every one of those would make a strong candle fragrance alone, but mix them all together and wow.

Bamboo -- even if it had a fragrance -- wouldn't stand a chance, no matter how you "layered" it. (They could have replaced the bamboo with "dead mackerel" and I bet you would not be able to tell.)

We keep the lid on this candle most of the time, as it's just too overpowering.

No need to even light it when we do want some fragrance though -- just pop the lid for a few minutes. Makes my eyes water just thinking about it.

Do I need to mention that the photo on the candle label isn't even bamboo? It's Dracaena sanderiana, or "lucky bamboo". Sheesh.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 9, 2013 at 10:05 AM)  

LOL, I love it! You were erroneously looking for the scent of real bamboo when it was LUCKY bamboo you were smelling!

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (March 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM)  

Thanks for the tip

Jasmine and Lily of the Valley can also be over powering if they aren't balance with a musk or something deep and woodsy.

danger garden  – (March 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM)  

Oh my that concoction sounds dreadful. A friend of mine just ordered some new perfumes for her store. Some of the names...Dirt, Grass, Pruning Shears. I've only smelled the Dirt (it was nice) but I can't wait to get my hands on the Grass.

Rock rose  – (March 9, 2013 at 4:04 PM)  

Ha, that is too funny. I suppose they think that calling it bamboo will attract the 'green' people. It has a more exotic Asian feeling. You should write to them and tell them what you think. I just hate going into those shops with thousands of scented things and even at my son's they have those things int he wall. I have to take them out because I can't sleep with that all pervading smell. have you smelt Salvia clevelandii. Now that is something I just adore but only in garden whiffs, not in the house.

Lisa  – (March 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM)  

I used to work in the candle industry (I know! Exciting stuff!) and they actually do call them flavored, not scents. Weird but true!

M  – (March 10, 2013 at 7:08 PM)  

How topical, I was out cutting the very old bamboo culms this weekend. A faint smell of chlorophyll and vanilla was evident. It was oxidized rather quickly and not ideal for something found in a scented candle.

Sylvanna  – (March 11, 2013 at 7:21 PM)  

I used to be a fan of lilac scented candles, but I've developed an allergy to all perfumes since then. Now I just keep a lidded candle in the cat room to pop open occasionally.

That so-called bamboo candle sounds horrid. It's strangely fun to see you annoyed by it.

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