Tuberose — The tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial plant of the agave family Agavaceae, extracts of which are used as a top note in perfumery. The common name derives from the Latin tuberosa, meaning swollen or tuberous in reference to its root system. It consists of about 12 species.
The tuberose is a night-blooming plant thought to be native to Mexico along with every other species of Polianthes. The Aztecs called it Omixochitl or bone flower.
Its East Indian name is “Rajnigandha”, though it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Raat ki Rani” (“Queen of the Night”), which is really Cestrum nocturnum. The Hindi name Rajnigandha means “night-fragrant” (rajni=night; gandha=fragrance). In Bangladesh it is called “Rojoni-Gondha”, meaning “Scent of the Night”. In parts of South India, it is known as “Sugandaraja”, which translates to “king of fragrance/smell”. In Singapore it is called Xinxiao which means “that on which the moth rests”. In Indonesia it is called “bunga sedap malam”, meaning fragrant night flower.
In Persian, it is called “Maryam” and is a popular name for girls (though this fact is rather strange considering that the plants originate from Mexico, and references to the name “Maryam” are made in the Bible and Qu’ran in the years preceding Jesus (ie. Before Mexico was re-discovered by the first Europeans)).
The tuberose is also used traditionally in Hawaii to create Leis and was considered a funeral flower in Victorian times. Its scent is described as a complex, exotic, sweet, floral.
The tuberose grows in elongated spikes up to 45 cm (18 in) long that produce clusters of fragrant waxy white flowers that bloom from the bottom towards the top of the spike. It has long, bright green leaves clustered at the base of the plant and smaller, clasping leaves along the stem.
Members of the closely-related genus Manfreda are often called “tuberoses”.