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A fragrance is a chemical substance that stimulates the sense of smell and is used for communication in animals , for example as a pheromone . In plants, perfumes both the attraction of serving insects to spread of pollen , seeds or spores as well as a deterrent.

Animal fragrances

Many animals have scent glands that smell pleasant (at least for certain animals); for example musk is known .

The dog's nose is one of the most sensitive olfactory organs (here: the nose of a Samoyed )

The animals use their scent, for example, to mark their territory ( scent marks ) or to convey messages to fellow species ( communication of fellow species ). This is how ants mark their streets with formic acid .

To attract sexual partners, for example, female animals ready to conceive squirt urine to signal to male conspecifics that they can be mated. Some species of butterflies also lure their partners with fragrances over many kilometers.

Fragrances can also serve to arouse the sexual partner. Scent glands are strongly developed in mammals, especially during the rut (foreskin glands of the beaver or the musk sac of the musk deer). The beaver sprays so-called " beaver horny " to attract conspecifics. This scent is / was often used by hunters when hunting beavers, as it guaranteed very high catch rates.

For example, skunks use stinky gland secretions to deter enemies .

Herbal fragrances

Plants have scents to attract insects or scare away predators. Sweet scents are mostly used as attractants, foul smelling ones as defense.

Various herbal fragrances are obtained in considerable quantities from the respective plants and used in perfume production or for flavoring foods or in medicines. The following plants may be mentioned as examples: lavender , roses , caraway , eucalyptus , vanilla , citrus plants .

Synthetic fragrances

Are often used in perfumes , scented candles , room fragrances or sprays, etc. In these products, in addition to natural fragrances ( fragrances ), e.g. B. cinnamaldehyde or coumarin , used because the need exceeds the supply from natural sources. Furthermore, fragrances are also used that do not occur in nature, e.g. B. 2-benzylidene heptanal (amylcinnamaldehyde) or ethyl 2-naphthyl ether .

Fragrances can cause allergies in sensitive people ; Contrary to popular belief, this does not depend on the origin (natural or synthetic), but on the chemical structure.

Fragrances in humans

Humans also have their own scents ( pheromones ) for sexual attraction and advertising.

Human nose

The apocrine glands of the skin, which, as scent glands, secrete scents and their precursors in addition to the eccrine sweat glands, are of crucial importance . B. smelling steroids , carboxylic acid derivatives such as 3-hydroxy-3-methylhexanoic acid, and sulfanylalkanols ( thiols ). Bacterial enzymes , which belong to the group of lyases and convert the actual fragrances from the fragrance precursor molecules, play an important role in the development of scents .

Different types and means of personal hygiene , however serve an effort to odor as unpleasant perceived body odors , such as in bad breath or sweat odor to stop ( deodorization ). In addition, humans use non-endogenous fragrances, e.g. B. in perfumes and perfumed cosmetic products to get a different smell. Living rooms and clothing are also replaced by fragrances that, for. B. are contained in detergents and detergents, perfumed in different scents.

Market importance

Sales on the world market for all substances that were used as odorous substances or flavorings - fragrances and aromas - amounted to around 18 billion US dollars in 2006.


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    • later edition under the title: Nobody smells as good as you . The secret messages of fragrances, Piper, Munich / Zurich 2010, ISBN 978-3-492-25747-3 .
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  • Udo Pollmer , Andrea Fock, Ulrike Gonder, Karin Haug: Love goes through the nose. What influences and guides our behavior. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-462-03011-6 .
  • Lutz Roth, Kurt Kormann: Scented plants, plant scents . Essential oils and fragrances. ecomed, Landsberg 1997, ISBN 3-609-65140-7 .
  • Georg Schwedt: Beguiling fragrances, sensual aromas. In: Experience Science . Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2008, ISBN 978-3-527-32045-5 .
  • Wilfried Umbach: Cosmetics and hygiene from head to toe , 3rd edition, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2004, p. 346ff. ISBN 3-527-30996-9 .
  • Piet Vroon, Anton von Amerongen, Hans de Vries: Psychology of fragrances . How smells influence and seduce us. (Original title: Verborgen verleider. Translated from the Dutch by Annette Löffelholz) Kreuz, Zurich 1996, ISBN 3-268-00195-5 .
  • Lyall Watson. The scent of seduction . The unconscious smell and the power of attractants (original title: Jacobson's Organ And the Remarkable Nature of Smell , Norton, New York NY 2000, ISBN 0-393-33291-8 , translated by Yvonne Badal), Fischer-Taschenbuch 15880, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 978-3-596-15880-5 .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Fragrance  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Entry on fragrances. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on July 25, 2013.