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By Sloan Baron
If you thought vanilla or roses were found in most fragrances, think again. Courmarin, tiny crystals found in tonka beans as well as other plants such as sweet woodruff, sweet clover, sweet grass and cassia cinnamon, are found in 90 percent of all fragrances. It smells sweet, grassy, slightly like tabacco, and of vanilla. Before perfumery, the ingredient was used to flavour food.
The name coumarin derives from the Amazonian or Tupi name for the Tonka bean tree “cumaru.” In French, it is coumarine via the Portuguese and Spanish coumarou.
The ingredient was first established as an essential component of perfume in the early 19th century by Paul Parquet, a legendary perfumer of the fragrance, Fougère Royale by Houbigant. As a result, fougères (French for fern) became a new category of fragrances, one in which coumarin would become an indispensable ingredient.
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