Daphne perfume princess and Mark Jury

Plants from the genus Daphne, at least those found in your local garden centre, are some of the most fragrant plants available. There is good reason for this and that is due to the environments they have evolved to inhabit. Many Daphne species inhabit high altitude, mountainous regions which due to the cooler conditions have fewer pollinating insects compared to those of warmer, lowers altitude environments. Therefore to help attract sufficient pollinators to their blooms they must make their presence known over a greater area and they achieve this buy emitting significantly more insect attracting perfume.

Of course, everybody's nose is slightly different when it comes to registering scents with some able to smell some fragrances more than others so rather than propose just one Daphne we will consider those generally accepted to be the most fragrant. However there is a recently hybrid which is generally agreed to knock the socks off the others.

Daphne odora
Historically, if you were looking for the most fragrant Daphne you would most likely be directed to Daphne odora. In fact the Latin specific epithet odora means "fragrant". So powerful is it perfume that in Korea it is commonly known as 'chunhyang', meaning a thousand-mile scent!

Not quite as fragrant, but still gorgeously pungent by anyone's standards are the species and cultivars of Daphne bholua, Daphne mezereum and the hybrid Daphne x burkwoodii.

So when it comes to being the king of all fragrant Daphne's there is one that is considered to take the crown. Unsurprisingly it is a hybrid of two of the best selected species already mentioned and that is Daphne x Perfume Princess, the result of a hybrid between Daphne odora and Daphne Bholua.

Beginning in 2003 this new hybrid was developed over a period of some 10 years by plant breeder, Mark Jury. His aim was to combine the tough, strong growth habit of Daphne bholua with the heady fragrance and flowering performance of Daphne odora.  However, Mark found the seed set extremely low, and almost gave up on the project. Finally, he found 6 ripened seeds, yet only one of these went on to germinate.

Over time, Daphne Perfume Princess was nearly forgotten in the breeders nursery in New Zealand as Mark Jury had moved on to develop new breeds of Magnolia. Luckily he was bowled over by the heady scent when the plant first bloomed. Not only does the resulting hybrid combine the strong growth of Daphne bhola and the unforgettable fragrance of Daphne odora, it is earlier and longer flowering than other varieties and produces larger blooms! To add another layer excellence Daphne 'Perfume Princess' is both the first and the last daphne to bloom each year, flowering up to 8 weeks earlier than traditional Daphne odora and continuing longer that all other daphnes!

Some would say that not only did he produce the most fragrant daphne, he may have inadvertently produced the world's most fragrant shrub!

In text image credit - Miya 's file: I took this photo in Hyogo, Japan., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=667053

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