Tomato Leaf: Sweet Anthem + Illuminum reviews


Post by Azar


Hello Perfume Pals,

New perfumeries pop up everyday and it is inevitable that some will fall by the wayside. The ability to create beautiful fragrances does not mean a house will be around forever.

In 2016, after 9 years in business, Meredith Smith sold her Seattle based Sweet Anthem to a Portland, Oregon perfumer. While the name and the logo have not changed, my favorites – Joan, Lolita, Red Queen – are missing from the new website. Meredith will remain involved as a perfumer, but I have to admit that I miss her presence and my visits to her tiny shop in West Seattle.

Today I’m reviewing two perfumes that include the illusive scent of tomato leaf.

The Trouble with Tomato Leaves!

Azar 2015 tomatoes

Azar 2016 tomatoesTomato Photos by Azar

First let me say something about tomatoes. Last year the 100 + tomato plants in my garden produced a bumper crop in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. This summer I’m growing half that number of plants and the season has been cool. We won’t have a glut of tomatoes this year. However, we will have the fragrance of tomato leaves – but not for long! The leaf scent is produced by glandular trichomes in the epidermis that secrete a yellow substance giving each variety a characteristic odor. As the nights get cooler and the days shorter the trichomes no longer function and the scent of tomato leaf is history. At this point I resort to manmade perfumes for my tomato leaf fix!

Tomato Leaf: Sweet Anthem + Illuminum reviews

Tomato Leaf Illuminum FragranticaFragrantica

Tomato Leaf by Michael Bondi for Illuminum 2012

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Tomato leaf, carrot seeds, orange, jasmine, freesia, osmanthus, musk, vanilla

Tomato Leaf is a green, raw, and crisp white floral, chilly and slightly acrid, lacking the vegetal warmth of the real thing. It seems the perfumer tried to create warmth using osmanthus and something like clove, but instead managed to push the fragrance into the realm of Tiger Balm – Baume du Tigre Fraîche! Don’t get me wrong! I like Tomato Leaf but would adore it if the green floral lasted longer and the Tiger Balm was less prominent.


Joan by Meredith Smith for Sweet Anthem 2010

Basenotes gives these featured accords:
Beeswax, coriander, peony, tomato leaf, white mint

Joan, on the other hand, is a warm, sunny floral – herbal, minty and full of beeswax. The tomato leaf is entwined with peony creating the scent of an early summer garden. While not a true tomato leaf, Joan captures the essence of a tomato plant soaking up the sunshine. I prefer the solid version to the EdP, as Joan is quite long lived with serious sillage.

Both fragrances have been discontinued. So – why am I even reviewing them? Good question! What do you think? Should reviewers write about impossible to find fragrances? Has one of your favorite houses been sold or gone belly up? Do you like the scent of tomato leaf in perfume?

Azar xx

27 thoughts on “Tomato Leaf: Sweet Anthem + Illuminum reviews

  1. I didn’t know she sold. I have sampled all of the following and like many but none were loves or full-bottle worthy:
    Red Queen

    The same exact thing happened to me with Poison Apple Apothecary. I used to buy bottles of Caterpillar’s Pipe and Garden of Graves all the time. She sold the business. Now, the new perfumer does not offer those two. It broke my heart.


    • Hi Gina,
      It breaks my heart too! This scenario seems to be quite common these days and so, when I find an indie perfumer that I really like, I try to support them by buying there products – if I can afford to. Outlaw, a perfumer offering oils on Etsy, is also gone. I read a nice comment here on APJ about this line, but by the time I got around to trying their fragracnes she had petty much wrapped things up. Sigh…
      Azar xx


  2. Hey there Azar.
    I have such fond memories of the smell of growing and picking tomatoes, pinching the suckers out and the toxic powder we used to shake over them. I’ve not found a fragrance that hits the spot exactly for me through, they always seem to just miss.
    Portia xx


    • Hi Portia,
      This near miss thing is percolating for a new post! 🙂 Tomato leaf is especially illusive. I think that even the latest “live” extraction methods would fail to catch the scent. The only hope would be to go around and somehow scrape or gather the yellow exudate from the stems and leaves and preserve it on site. It seems that the glandular and hairy trichomes are so fragile that any kind of heat, solvent or even enfleurage probably destroys them and their exudate instantly, never mind the oxidation and enzymatic deterioration that happens after cutting. I imagine there is a good synthetic out there, though – but I’m still looking for that great tomato leaf perfume!
      Azar xx


  3. I dunno about a fragrance with tomato leaf, but I would give up pefume before I would give up tomatoes. They are that important to me. xxx


    • Hi Val,
      Yes! And this summer – in the PNW – has been such a tomato disappointment – after last year, anyway. With a few early oddball exceptions, they are all just starting to ripen now. Hopefully we will have several more weeks of sun and warmth so I won’t have to deal with a lot of green tomatoes. Do you have any good green tomato recipes?
      Azar xxx


  4. Hi Azar!

    I’m so glad that Meredith was able to sell Sweet Anthem, but I also feel bereft that she is no longer there. Joan sounds lovely – I wonder if I have a sample in The Sample Sea…

    Tomato leaf is such a difficult note, as it can be so acrid and needs a lot of atmosphere (dirt, bugs, grass, air, sun etc) to shine. I haven’t yet found a perfume with that note that I like.

    As far as reviewing discontinued fragrances goes, I say why not? I’m certainly not hankering to buy everything I read about anyway, and I enjoy simply learning and sometimes even experiencing unfulfilled yearning. 🙂

    Holly xo


    • Great comment and good point, Holly!
      You are right. For fragrance junkies it is fun (and important?) to learn about fragrances, discontinued or not. I just wish that some of the “discontinueds” that I really love would come back in something like their original form. If Lanvin would ever bring back a reasonable facsimile of their Spanish Geranium I would be all over it! It doesn’t seem to me like that would be such a hard thing to do…but then, I’m not Lanvin.
      Azar xx


  5. Holy Tomato! We just took in about 75 pounds ourselves, yesterday, many large gold tomatoes, and old heritage. I LOVE tomatoes, and the scent to me is heaven. Like blackberries, tomatoes are quintessential summer. Neither scent is captured in essence well it seems (though with blackberry it is attempted more often and poorly), but I didn’t know about these two tomato perfumes, and yes, I’m gonna be on ebay and checking some other stores out. I also like mint and would love a minty scent that had the freshness, the green crunch without the Pepsodent aspect. Seems impossible. I do like reviews of discontinued scents because it is just plain interesting, a good reference, and we may stumble on those ourselves, or go in search. It enlarges the horizons of what we and others consider scent. I just got Fragrantica to put up Vallee des Rois, my favorite perfume of all time, now long discontinued. So yes, we should consider all the beauties, even the lost ones. On another note, I’m very sorry to hear about your discontinued favs and the house too. I haven’t lost my favorite house yet; it is just a matter of time however, but supplier Posh Peasant is closing and that had me in doldrums about samples! Thank you the great pics and reviews. I love my tomatoes and consider hot salsa the nectar of gods. Perhaps the scent of leaves is what they really wear!


    • Shiva-woman! 75 lbs. WOW! I believe you are right! The gods and goddesses might just wear the scent of tomato leaves for perfume and salsa could easily be their ambrosia. We had a great crop last year and even after the season we had a bumper crop of green tomatoes. I made a green tomato salsa and it was wonderful, but SO much work! I will have to come up with something easier to do with the green tomatoes this year.
      Azar xx


  6. Yup, not much on the tomato front this year, but the CRAB has been overflowing like zucchini!! No complaints from me! Do you know, is the perfumer from Portland moving the busniess down there? I knew the shop had closed, but thought I had heard that it was slated to re-open… Xoxo


    • Hi Robert,

      As far as I know Meredith sold the business to a perfumer in Portland. She couldn’t keep up with it and her new baby too. The new owners are producing a selection of the old fragrances using Sweet Anthem’s original formulas. I’m not sure if they are wholesaling to brick and mortars as well as selling online. That is all I know. if you have newer information I would appreciate it.

      Re Crabs: I love them but have developed an allergy over the years. So sad for me. No more crab cakes 😦 sigh…

      Azar xx


  7. Yum tomato leaf! I have a little bottle of natural Tomato Leaf (total) extract and just a drop of it gives secret summer garden magic to a perfume composition.
    I know what you mean, the guilt of reviewing and waxing poetic over a fragrance that readers can’t obtain (at least not easily). When it comes down to it, I think we should share our love for discontinued art because at the end of the day, we are not selling anything and we are not sponsored by the perfumers or affiliated with them. Our reviews are genuine and from the heart, and if a scent we love is no longer available, it simply reinforces mindfulness, that we should live in the now and enjoy what we love. If you can afford it, don’t hold off on buying the full bottle you’ve been pining for. Similarly, if you missed out on something beautiful and unattainable, find joy in the beauty of someone else’s loving experience, be happy for them, and be grateful for your own unique bottles of liquid sensory bliss.


    • Beautifully said, Erica!
      Perfume can give us pleasure in so many ways. And yes, if we can afford it, a full bottle of what we dearly love is worth every penny!
      Azar xx


  8. Also – I recommend sampling Branch & Vine by Providence Perfume Company. It is an all-natural cologne and features the Tomato Leaf that I mentioned, along with cucumbery Mimosa Olessance and a caress of sun-warmed Vetiver, among other gorgeous accenting notes. The result on the skin is seemingly green and white at the same time – not bitter, not soapy, just morning dew glistening on a lush well-tended garden, the hazy humidity of a warm summer day on the horizon but not quite yet, in that cool morning sunshine just having chased away the shadows and moonbeams.
    It’s so damn gorgeous and doesn’t get enough attention. I think it’s one of Charna’s best creations.


    • I do have a sample of Branch and Vine and I know exactly where it is. I remember the mimosa, I think, but will try it again with a nose out for the tomato leaf! Your description is irresistible!!!
      Azar xxx


  9. Demeter has a Tomato Leaf scent. CB I Hate Perfumes Memory of Kindness is strong on the tomato leaf and Laura Biagotti Roma has it as a note. The tomatoes aren’t doing well here this year. Everyone is complaining. I didn’t plant any veggies this year and now I’m glad because it would have been a lot of work for no return on the investment.


    • Hi Poodle,

      You would think that, as a lover of the scent of tomato leaf, I would have tried the Demeter by now – but I have not…yet. I’ve read about Memory of Kindness and that one is on my list. I’ve tried Roma but need to do that again.

      And yes, I am wondering about my investment in time, water and energy in the tomatoes this year. But it is not over until it is over. We are looking at stretch of warm sunny weather for the last two weeks of August. I’m hoping all the bigs green globes will soon be red, yellow and various heirloom shades. I even went so far as to buy some Black Rose tomatoes – GMOs created from tomatoes and, from what I understand, snapdragons. They are supposed to be bursting with anthocyanins. They are a deep purply back in color with a red blush as they ripen. I have no idea what they taste like but the leaves smell like real tomatoes 🙂

      Azar xxx


  10. Goodness, your tomatoes are beautiful. Next year I’m only planting cherry and the little yellow pear tomatoes as I cannot handle my one Purple Cherokee.

    I like tomato leaf in perfume but I don’t love it. That being said, I’ll definitely pass on tiger balm – I’ve spent enough volleyball tournaments wearing it for a lifetime!

    Lastly I think it’s good to review perfumes that may not be available anymore – it could always lead to new similar discoveries!


    • Yes, Sun MI!

      I have been wondering about reviewing discontinued frags. The consensus seems to be that it is a good idea and I agree.

      My favorite cherry tomato is the TJ’s grape tomato. I simply squish one tomato and plant the wet seeds. They all seem to germinate, giving me husky, vigorous plants and loads of great tasting small tomatoes. This year I had great luck with all the tomato and pepper seeds I saved from last year. 🙂

      Azar xxx


  11. Hey Azar! Tomato leaf is such a special, unique smell. It’s great. I had a short-lived attempt at growing tomatos, I failed, but the plants smelt fabulous! Found myself running my hands along the stem whenever I stepped out the front door.

    I found an interesting tomato scent in Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum. It’s worth checking out.

    Tina G xx


    • I will check it out! Thank you for the tip, Tina! I think I may have a sample somewhere in the chaos.

      The biggest enemies of my tomato plants are flea beetles. An infestation can turn the leaves to “lace” overnight. I finally have them under control using a regimen that includes predatory nematodes (they eat the beetle larvae) and insecticidal soap for any stray beetles. AH! The joys of gardening… 🙂

      Azar xx


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