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Rhythms of fragrance emission in flowers


A method for the sampling of volatiles emitted by individual flowers is described. Sampling over periods of 3 h allowed the examination of diurnal changes in quantity and quality of fragrance. In the species studied, Odontoglossum constrictum Lindl., Citrus medica L., Hoya carnosa R. Br., and Stephanotis floribunda Brongs., the fragrance was characterized by a few major components accompanied by a larger number of minor components. Flowers of all species produced volatiles in a rhythmical, diurnal fashion. Whereas in detached flowers of O. constrictum and C. medica rhythmicity could be observed for up to four cycles, flowers of H. carnosa showed this phenomenon only when attached to the plant. Maxima of emission were observed during the day in C. medica and O. constrictum whereas in H. carnosa it occurred during the night. In S. floribunda a conspicuous asynchronism of the emission of different volatiles was observed, resulting in the rhythmical change of fragrance quality.

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Matile, P., Altenburger, R. Rhythms of fragrance emission in flowers. Planta 174, 242–247 (1988).

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Key words

  • Flower fragrance
  • Fragrance emission
  • Diurnal rhythmicity (fragrance)
  • Rhythmicity (flower fragrance)