Coriander (pronounced kaw·ree·an·dr) is a perfume ingredient commonly used for adding a spicy note added to fragrances. It comes from coriander oil, an essential oil that’s naturally extracted from the dried seeds of the Latin-named Coriandrum sativum plant.
Coriandrum sativum, which also goes by the name of Chinese parsley, is a feathery, aromatic plant that belongs to the same family as parsley, celery, and carrots.
Don’t get misled by its second name. Today, Coriandrum sativum is widely cultivated in Asia, which is probably where it gets the nickname of “Chinese parsley” from.
However, it’s actually native to Southern Europe.
Coriander originated in Italy—and it thrives in the dry summers, cool winters, and nurturing soil along the dramatic coast of the Mediterranean Sea as a whole.
Today, Coriandrum sativum is grown in most Mediterranean countries in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Middle East, as well as in Asia. Some of the top growers of the plant include China, India, Egypt, Morocco, Italy, Malta, Holland, Hungary, and Russia.
The Coriandrum sativum plant is entirely edible. Many Sterlish readers have probably already tasted its leaves as the fresh herb called cilantro, and the ground spice from its dried seeds known as coriander.
In perfumery, the essential oils from Coriandrum sativum’s seeds (known as coriander oil) and leaves (known as cilantro oil) are commonly used as a spicy, risqué, and stimulating note for fragrances.
Coriander essential oil has a spicy, herbal, and oriental scent with an earthy character and a conspicuous terpenic note to it. Many would describe it as pronouncedly pungent and slightly musky.
The name “coriander” comes from the Greek word koris for the brown marmorated stink bug, which the spice tends to resemble.
Unsurprisingly, the similarities between the smell of a stink bug and coriander oil are the main reason why not a small number of people dislike the scent of coriander essential oil as a whole—and most of the fragrances whose formulations have it on their ingredients list.
Extracted from cilantro leaves, cilantro essential oil has a leafy, herbal, and intense aroma with a refreshing kick and a certain natural sweetness to it.
Compared to coriander oil, which smells drier and earthier, in a way closer to the stiff ground and summer soil, cilantro oil is leafier and herbier, noticeably more lively and genuinely playful.