The Sweet Woody Animalic Fragrance of Labdanum

Widely used by perfumers in more recent times due to the fact it mimics the scent of ambergris, the fragrance of labdanum exudes animalic notes of amber, sweet, fruity, woody ambergris, dry musk and leather. Our team dives deep into this uniquely intense and aromatic fragrance.


A perfume facet somewhat difficult to pronounce, it is also known as: ambreine, ladan and ladanan, which are not necessarily easier to say, but perhaps easier to spell.

In any case, this element was used throughout history as a herbal medicine, and today it is most often found in the preparation of some vermouths and many perfume formulations.

One of the earliest aromatic substances used by ancient cultures, it is indigenous to very dry locations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and The Middle East including: Morocco; Spain; Portugal; Greece; Cyprus; Corsica; France and Yugoslavia.

Labdanum Fragrance

Labdanum derives from the sticky brown resin found on the Cistus plant, which is also known as Rock Rose. It is indigenous to very dry locations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and The Middle East.

Originally, harvesting techniques were limited to collecting the resin from the coats and beards and legs of goats and sheep that grazed on these hardy shrubs.

Today, precious labdanum is usually extracted from the leaves via solvents, but sometimes the branches of the shrubs are boiled.

It is believed that the earliest use of labdanum dates back to the 9th century and the early Arabians who used it in their many recipes.

Its first utilization in perfumery however, is linked to the ancient kingdom of Egypt when labdanum was also known as: ladanan, black balsam and gum cistus. It was popularized as a key ingredient in the kyphi incense blend and early Hebrews burned it in their temples.

Used in sacred rituals and ceremonies, this formulation was marked by deep, sweet aspects of wine, rich honey, sugary honeycomb, delicate traces of earthy, musty vetiver, warm, spicy ginger and woody, ambrosial juniper berries.

Vetiver and Perfumery

The popularity of labdanum today is largely but not exclusively due to the fact that it mimics the fragrance of ambergris, a natural secretion of the sperm whale that is illegal to extract.

In its absolute form, it is the key ingredient utilized by many master perfumers when their chemists are formulating an amber fragrance. It serves as a superior fixative, aiding other facets to retain their original character.

The warm, inviting resin is sometimes described as either subdued and leathery or honeyed with accents of fruity, peachy plum.

Labdanum Fragrance Resin

Labdanum blends well with many diverse essential oils. These include: spicy, elegant bergamot; woody, root-like carrot seed; dark, tea-like Boronia; dry cedar wood; warm, inviting cinnamon; sweet, potent clary sage; piney, slightly smoky Cypress; fresh, spicy Elemis, aromatic frankincense; rosy, floral geranium; uplifting grapefruit; fresh, tea-like Helichrysum; intense jasmine; woody, fresh and crisp Juniper berry; calming, sweet lavender; fresh lemon; sugary, vanilla-like styrax; sweet, powdery mimosa; woody, pungent myrrh and earthy oak moss.

A Few Other Uses Of Labdanum

Labdanum is also used extensively in aromatherapy applications where it is deployed to relieve stress and congestion. In foods and beverages it serves as a flavoring agent.

When applied in conjunction with frankincense (pictured below), labdanum is said to regenerate and help firm wrinkled skin and serve as an astringent for oily skin and acne.

frankincense fragrance

In the practice of aromatherapy, laudanum oil is considered a stress and congestion reliever, and it is used as a flavoring agent in both food and beverages.

It is also used in the leather industry to add a depth of fragrance to hides. 

A Few Interesting Facts About Labdanum

1. The Leaves Of The Plant Are Very Beneficial To Human Health

The leaves are rich in polyphenols, which are micronutrients laden with anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory properties and even more anti-oxidants than green tea. 

2. Labdanum Is Renowned For Its Regenerative Qualities

It is the factor that makes labdanum a popular ingredient in skin care products like lotions and creams.

It also greatly affects our olfactory system by offering a balanced, earthy tone to perfumes, which in turn aids in strengthening base notes and extending their lasting aromatic effects.

3. On The Island Of Crete Extraction is Completely Manual

An ancient method  to excrete the resin is employed that involves a special wooden tool called a ladanisterion, which resembles a rake, but has leather tongs rather than metal teeth. It is dragged across the bushes to collect the resin.

4. Rock Rose

The resin of labdanum is also known as Rock Rose. It is so named for the 5-petaled white flowers that resemble the blooms of the tea rose.

5. Labdanum Was A Sacred Ingredient For Perfume In Ancient Egypt

It was believed that labdanum was created from the “Tears of Osiris” which were said to have fallen from the heavens onto the cistus bush and formed this aromatic resin.

The Pharaohs often wore false beards made of braided goat fur, which were soaked in labdanum. It symbolized a heavenly link to the almighty gods and leadership.

6. Labdanum Is Sticky In Nature

This factor is the reason why labdanum was used a great deal in the past for the manufacture of herbal medicines.

7. A Long Spiritual History

The use of labdanum has a long spiritual past, dating back to the Book Of Genesis in The Old Testament. It is mentioned twice as a commodity being transported to Egypt from Canaan.

In addition, some scholars believe that the mysterious element in ketoret, which was the holy incense mentioned in the Old Testament, was actually labdanum. 

8. A Scent Of Divination 

Down through history, labdanum has provided warmth and comfort in times of emotional distress. Fragrant, sacred streams nurture and heal troubled spirits. When combined with frankincense, it is ideal for contemplation. 

9. A Truly Exotic Yet Familiar Scent 

This juxtaposition adds to both its depth and mystery. Although not totally unlike its resinous relatives, myrrh and benzoin, labdanum’s multi faceted power lies in its ability to both broaden and maintain the impact of lighter perfume notes. Put another way, its exceptional worth is all about the wonderful way it smells.

10. Early Arabs Had Multiple Uses For Labdanum

In addition to burning labdanum in sacred rituals, the early Arabs also used it medicinally in ointments and curatives.

A Few Of Our Recently-Designed Labdanum Fragrances

We are a leading perfume designer and fragrance supply company whose roots stretch as far back as the 1940s. Our continued success is due to our cutting edge technologies and stellar customer service.

Our fine formulations can be found in many commercial sectors including but not limited to: superior quality perfumes; scent branding; personal care products; candles and diffusers, cosmetics, fragrances for the home and pet products.

Alpha Aromatics Leading Pefume Manufacturer

Our master perfumers are often asked by product manufacturers to imbue fragrances with labdanum — the following represent just a few they recently composed for use in a wide array of scented products.

Labdanum Oud

Bursting with top note facets of dry, acidic and redolent citron, fruity, fresh and dense pear and honey-like and sugary tangerine, these elements soon drift into a floral heart note marked by bright, spicy and tropical lily, intense and intoxicating jasmine and earthy, rose-nuanced and green geranium.

A musky, woody dry down of dark, rich and warm amber, musky, smoky Oudh, leathery, complex and potent labdanum, erotic and sensual musk and rich, noble and lush vanilla complete this compelling fragrance.

Labdanum Orchid

Head notes of succulent orange, rich, creamy and sweet black coconut and tangy red berry open this energizing fragrance.

These aspects soon fold into a floral heart note bouquet of light, bitter neroli, vanilla-nuanced orchid, haunting, intense jasmine and buttery, smooth gardenia.

The scent completes with base notes characterized by earthy musk, deep, rich labdanum, velvety, warm sandalwood, passionate, sensual musk, elegant, sugary vanilla and honeyed, dark amber.

Dark Labdanum Patchouli

Citrus steams of uplifting grapefruit, fresh, clean lemon and sharp lime zest form the top notes of this glorious fragrance.

A floral heart note soon follows marked by aspects of rich, narcotic and intense jasmine, cinnamon-nuanced and creamy tonka bean and bright, waxy lily.

A dry down featuring dark, musty, aromatic patchouli, leathery, deep and potent labdanum, creamy sandalwood, animal-like, passionate musk; luxurious, sweet vanilla and dark, warm amber completes this compelling scent.

Labdanum Tuberose 

Juicy, peppery mandarin, sweet, green and spicy strawberry and fresh, crisp and sugary juniper berry open this fruity/floral melange.

These aspects soon seamlessly drift into a heart note marked by facets of woody, powdery violet, haunting jasmine, bitter, light neroli, exciting, creamy tuberose and floral, sugary and erotic Ylang Ylang.

A dry down of honeyed amber, pleasant, sweet and floral cocoa, dark, rich amber, deep, potent labdanum and elegant vanilla complete this delightful fragrance.

In Conclusion

If you are the owner or manager of a commercial enterprise and are seeking an elusive, mysterious and unique facet to add to a signature scent that will set your business apart from others of its ilk, consider labdanum and contact our teams today.


Photo Credits: Pixabay

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