A Branch of Mimosa for Carmen

“I will bring you cassie, if you still enjoy its perfume,” wrote French novelist Prosper Mérimée in Lettres à une inconnue (Letters to an Unknown). The Unknown, was Mademoiselle Jenny Dacquin, the daughter of a notary of Boulogne, with whom Mérimée corresponded for over forty years. And what flower should his Carmen throw to Don José? Une fleur de cassie.

Cassie and mimosa are two closely related plants from the acacia family. The branches covered with masses of lemon yellow pompoms not only look beautiful, they also have a rich scent valued in perfumery. Native to Australia, mimosas were brought to France in the 18th century by the British explorer, Captain James Cook, and they have flourished in the mild winters of the Mediterranean coast. Every February the Massif de Tanneron in Provence turns golden yellow as the mimosas come into bloom, a Fauvist painting come alive.

From these hills—as well as from South India and Egypt–come the floral essences for the perfumer’s palette. Mimosa has a pronounced aroma of cucumber peels, violet blossoms and milky almonds, while cassie is similar but with a rich spicy accent. They are some of the most complex and expensive ingredients available to fragrance creators, and to unlock their full potential requires much skill and experience.

In contrast to the cheery loveliness of the yellow blossoms, both mimosa and cassie essences capture the flowers’ darker femme fatale side. One of the best examples of the genre is Frédéric Malle’s Une Fleur de Cassie—it uses both mimosa and cassie for a seductive blend that starts cool and powdery and ends in suede and spice. Even so, Une Fleur de Cassie is an acquired taste, especially for those not familiar with the scent of mimosa. Caron Farnesiana is likewise a temptress but its touch is more subtle. It pays homage to the complexity of cassie and mimosa, but it contrasts the dark richness of flowers with almond meringues and candied violets.

Moving further away from the dark and smouldering spectrum we discover Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom, a light floral cologne. It has an effervescent, bright character—an uplifting experience on a winter morning. Santa Maria Novella Gaggia/Mimosa is another sheer and bright mimosa cologne, but it has a warm, delicately spiced finish.

Notwithstanding my focus on fragrances conventionally marketed to women, I encourage men to try the aforementioned mimosa recommendations. Une Fleur de Cassie, for instance, makes an alluring masculine scent. Those with more classical tastes, men or women, might appreciate Thirdman Eau Monumentale. It is an elegant citrus cologne, but what makes Eau Monumentale intriguing is a generous addition of mimosa. The contrast between the velvety floral heart and the peppery freshness of bergamot is as exhilarating as it is alluring.  Finally, Maison Kurkdjian’s Aqua Celestia is a blend of lime and mint layered with mimosa, and it’s another composition both men and women can wear. After all, wasn’t Carmen’s branch of mimosa destined for Don José?

What are your favorite mimosa fragrances? I added my favorites (minus the discontinued L’Artisan Mimosa Pour Moi,) but I’m sure you have others to include.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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36 Comments

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for this lovely post.

    I live in a unit complex, and recently the Body Corporate has been planning to revamp the garden. One thing we must decide is which variety of tree to plant out the front – one on each side of the driveway. I suggested the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha), but was informed that it can cause problems to those who suffer from hay fever. That’s such a shame, because we need something that can tolerate hot, dry weather, which the wattle does well, and a fountain of fluffy yellow flowers on either side of the driveway would look so beautiful.

    Next, I suggested Queensland nut trees, which produce the delicious macadamia nut, but was told that these attract rats. My next suggestion of bottlebrush trees (Callistemon) had a much better reception. The flowers are not perfumed, but the foliage has a citrus scent. Dad used to have one growing out the front of his house. We’ll have to wait and see about the final Body Corporate decision.

    I think the only fragrance I own that contains mimosa is Champs-Élysées, which I find quite pretty, although I have only a miniature bottle. I would love to try Farnesiana; the contrast of mimosa with almond meringues and candied violets sounds positively delicious!

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline

    P. S. I hope you received the email I inflicted on you about a week ago. February 11, 2022 at 7:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I checked, but no, I haven’t received an email from you.

      Guerlain Champs-Élysée is a very nice mimosa, believably so even. I used to think that Farnesiana was too abstract, but then I went to Tanneron one year for the mimosa season, and the whole place smelled of Farnesiana. February 11, 2022 at 9:44am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thanks for checking. I have sent it again. It has a large document attached. It might well have landed in your Spam file last time, if it reached you at all.

        Now I’m even more excited to try Farnesiana! February 11, 2022 at 10:04am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, I will check! February 11, 2022 at 10:07am Reply

  • Julie Basile: I believe Versace’s Yellow Diamonds is mimosa based — I feel Versace does great EDP and EDT’s – even Bright Crystal.

    Love reading the beautiful letters from you. I recently received a sample of a new collection from Alberto Morillas called Mizensir. WOW. It’s a challenge financially to have such an addiction to fragrance so I sometimes buy sets of combinations to try by the same perfumer. I love the Yellow Diamonds mimosa though. February 11, 2022 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, many of Versace fragrances include it. I also like that perfume. February 11, 2022 at 9:45am Reply

  • Megan: Thank you for this article. I realized I have been confusing cassie and cassis for quite some time. I will need to stop and consider fragrances I declined to sample because I don’t like fruity scents. February 11, 2022 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: It can be confusing as these words are not explained enough in the press releases.
      Another confusion that I see often is cedar (wood) and cedrat (a type of citrus). February 11, 2022 at 9:45am Reply

  • Maren Wilbur: I enjoy mimosa in fragrance very much. When I first started my perfume journey I sampled many fragrances and was on a quest to find a perfect mimosa / cassie scent. I fell in love with Mimosaique by Parfums de Nicolai only to discover it was discontinued. It still kind of haunts me. But I love Fleur de Cassie.
    Thank you for this excellent discussion of the history and differences of cassie and mimosa. February 11, 2022 at 9:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved Mimosaique and used up a bottle only to discover that it was no longer made.
      Une Fleur de Cassie is beautiful too. February 11, 2022 at 9:46am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Mimosa means to me: endless sneezing. But in a perfume, there is no such harm. The only mimosa I own are Champs ‘Elysées and Poême (yes, I know, bad reviews, but I like it!).
    I wear them with my bright yellow handbag.
    As soon as possible I will try Une Fleur de Cassie! February 11, 2022 at 10:49am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Cornelia,

      I’m sorry you have such an unpleasant reaction to mimosa.

      But I’m glad I’m not the only person who likes Poême!

      With kind regards,
      Tourmaline February 11, 2022 at 10:56am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Dear Tourmaline,

        Thank you! Yes, the beautiful pictures in this post makes me crave for such a bouquet. February 11, 2022 at 11:53am Reply

        • Victoria: I bought 5 bouquets of mimosa yesterday. I couldn’t resist. February 11, 2022 at 1:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh no! But good that you can wear perfumes with mimosa, and I like the idea of pairing them with yellow accessories. February 11, 2022 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Perfumelover67: I love mimosa flowers and mimosa in perfumes. I always enjoy wearing Prada Infusion de Mimosa Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom and Dame Perfumery Soliflore Mimosa. All beautiful, cheerful, and easy to wear. Unfortunately, Une Fleur de Cassie never worked for me; however, I admired its beauty. February 11, 2022 at 11:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Infusion de Mimosa is so lovely. Thank you for reminding me of it. February 11, 2022 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Aurora: You describe the appeal of Farnesiana so well, it manages to be gourmand without being verysweet. Another mimosa I enjoy is l’Occitane Fleur d’or & Acacia which wasn’t available for very long like many l’Occitane offerings.

    What a pretty photo! February 11, 2022 at 11:55am Reply

    • Victoria: L’Occitane also had a nice mimosa soap, but I don’t know if they still make it. February 11, 2022 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Valentyna: Not mimosa soliflore, but mimosa is definitely a star in it: Vagabond Swan Princess. It’s so true to its name, watery aspect of mimosa then turns into white plumage and you can see that graceful neck appearing from the reeds… exceptionally well made, hmm.. I might have sold myself a perfume 😄😄😄 February 11, 2022 at 2:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: That sounds wonderful! You might have sold all of us a perfume. 🙂 February 11, 2022 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Nancy Chan: L’Occitane’s Fleur d’or and Acacia is a lovely mimosa perfume. I regret not buying another bottle. It was part of the Grasse collection perfumes, now discontinued.

    Aurora, thank you for replying to my question regarding the availability of Chanel’s Cristalle edt. I did manage to email Chanel’s customer service. The reply was, it was out of stock and they are working diligently to ensure this product can be purchased again.

    Just wondering if Cristalle edt is a seasonal fragrance. February 11, 2022 at 4:37pm Reply

    • Aurora: Thank you Nancy! Very useful info, heartening to know EDT of Cristalle will be available again. February 11, 2022 at 11:44pm Reply

  • Karina: I enjoy mimosa scents very much. I regret not buying a bottle of Mimosa pour moi in a L‘Artisan sale two years back. The one that got away!

    Mimosa scents I enjoy are Astier de Villate Grand Chalet (which combines it with linden blossom) and Perris Monte Carlo Mimosa Tanneron. Und Fleur de Cassie is of course also rather lovely. February 11, 2022 at 4:43pm Reply

  • Frances: I used to have a beautiful mimosa tree in my garden. It was so nice to have such a burst of warm colour in the heart of winter, like a giant bouquet!

    When it comes to fragrances with mimosa, I was gifted Champs Elysées when it first launched but I don’t remember the scent so well except that it was very pleasant. I’d like to revisit it.

    Après L’Ondée which I wear right now is another beautiful mimosa, at least to my nose. Guerlain official site doesn’t list it, so am I wrong? Am I confusing it with something else entirely? February 11, 2022 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Iolanda: There is mimosa in The Favourite and at the first sprays I didn’t like it too much: now it’s one of my favourite note in this bouquet! It’s really intriguing. February 11, 2022 at 6:40pm Reply

  • Nina Z: Where I live in California, there are lots of acacia trees and they are in full bloom right now! Last year at this time, I tried every mimosa/acacia fragrance I could get my hands on and in the end I decided that Farnesiana smelled the most like the intoxicating waft that you smell as you walk by a tree (sometimes from half a block away) and that Mimosa Pour Moi smelled the most like the blossoms sniffed up close. I love both of those. Une Fleur de Cassie is close to the real thing but smells a bit harsh on me. Recently I was inspired to layer Farnesiana on top of Une Fleur de Cassie to soften the harshness–I never layer–and, whoa, it was an amazing combination. I never tried the Santa Maria Novella mimosa, but now I have a new mission to do so because I only have a decant of Mimosa Pour Moi and love having mimosa/acacia option that is more sheer than Farnesiana, which is so rich and powdery. February 11, 2022 at 6:43pm Reply

  • EB: I have and love Une Fleur de Cassie – a masterpiece in my opinion. I used to live on a property in regional Australia. We had to clear (every year) the Acacia that grew like weeds. During bushfire season if they caught alight they exploded and increased the fire spread.
    Very pretty in bloom but they certainly have to suit the environment. February 11, 2022 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Alityke: Didn’t the original version of Kenzo Parfum d’Ete have mimosa in it?
    Sadly, I never made the purchase but couldn’t resist a spritz when passing a tester February 12, 2022 at 10:19am Reply

  • Vasco Trancoso: My favorite mimosa fragrance is: Mimosa Tanneron – Perris Monte Carlo in 2020 by Jean-Claude Ellena.
    A “clean” natural and sophisticated mimosa, without synthetic and lethal bombs – attacking our olfactory bulb. Super-elegant, floral-powdery and transparent evokes laughter and kisses shimmering in the sun in a garden at the end of Spring.
    A realistic mimosa combined with the sweet/musky scent of hawthorn (prominent in Chanel Beige), responsible for a hint of sensuality. And the rose, it’s cottony pink and “powdery”. The “headspace” is a cloud of luminous pollen. February 12, 2022 at 11:38am Reply

  • Emily: Une Fleur de Cassie was the first scent that clicked for me as an art form, a profound & witty meditation on mortality, a fourth dimensional sculpture that unfurled itself over an afternoon.

    That was a scant three years ago but I’ve become so distracted by smelling all the other things I haven’t revisited it.

    Shall remedy immediately. February 12, 2022 at 1:59pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I love Swan Princess and especially Jo Malone’s Mimosa & Cardamom. I think Annick Goutal may have had a mimosa fragrance in the past, too? I need to sample Une Fleur de Cassie. Somehow, I managed to miss sampling it in my exploration of the Frederic Malle brand. February 15, 2022 at 9:40pm Reply

  • Karina_NL: Hello everyone,

    I’d like to add the name of my favourite mimosa perfume to the list: Byzantine by Rochas. Unfortunately it has been discontinued long ago, but it is still available on Ebay I think. Actually this is the only perfume that I have ever bought there, as it was the only chance to get it even several years ago. February 16, 2022 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Frankie: I have never seen the yellow fuzzy mimosa here in North America, only the pink fuzzy type which smells so beautiful. Are there any perfumes that capture that amazing pink fragrance? I may have asked this before. February 21, 2022 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Inma: Hi All,

    This morning I have smelt the first orange blossom (azahar) of this year here in my city, Seville. And I have thought about the people around this place.

    Our streets are full of bitter orange trees so during the upcoming weeks it will be wonderful to walk in the streets, also it won’t be too hot yet.

    In the middle of a mad world beauty is hope for me.

    Hugs,

    Inma February 24, 2022 at 4:56am Reply

  • Doris Cooulthurst: Hi Victoria,
    I hope you and family are well. I have enjoyed reading your post about fragrances and now look at you on you tube. I would like to know where I can find Oeillet Sauvage or Caron Bellodgia. I love the smell of carnations and use to wear a perfume from Floris of London who has discontinued it. If you have any idea please let me know. I have no success with ebay. March 6, 2022 at 3:36pm Reply

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