Many of our Australian natives produce beautiful blooms that represent Australia’s scent.
Some Australian native plants have scents. There is even one called Smell of the Bush (Mallotus claoxyloides), though it is not to everyone’s sense of aroma. The Sweet Scented Kunzea has a gorgeous honey perfume in Tasmania and some parts of the mainland. Everyone knows one of the most valuable, versatile Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), used in cooking, teas, body lotions, laundry powders and cleaning aids. A relative of this is the Backhousia anisate with a lovely aniseed-liquorice aroma and taste and is again used in cooking and tea and has anti-microbial properties. The leaves are the world’s most concentrated, naturally-occurring source of citral (a lemon fragrance found in lemongrass and other lemon-scented plants), which gives them their irresistibly delicious, lemony fragrance.
The lemon myrtle has a couple of close relatives that are also widely sought after for their aromatic and culinary uses; Aniseed myrtle (Syzygium anisatum), for its aniseed flavoured foliage and Cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia), for its sweet, spicy scented foliage. The leaves of any of these plants can be used fresh or dried.
A wonderful addition to a sensory garden or perfumed garden is the Australian native mint bush (Prostanthera ovaolifolia). The gorgeous purple flowers attract pollinators, and the foliage has a wonderful minty smell when you brush by it. The chocolate lily (Arthropodium strictus) has a flower that smells like chocolate and many recipes use this plant. There are a huge variety of Australian native plants that are worthy additions to your garden, be it a tree such as Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) or Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) which produces the tea tree oil. Shrubs such as Leptospermum petersonii ‘Little Lemon Scents’, Boronia megastigma, Boronia heterophylla, or Wax Flower (Philotheca myoporoides).
The perfume is not there for us alone, it brings in the pollinators and the wildlife to assist in spreading their seeds. The flowers may not always be significant enough to draw attention, so the perfume is the draw card and announces there is nectar or pollen to be had. The Pink Rock Orchid (Dendrobium kingianum) uses this method even though the floral displays on the plant are magnificent.