Galbanum: Notes on Notes

Hello APJ, Welcome to our small scale collaboration project. Old Herbaceous (OH) of Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities and I will be doing a monthly post on different perfume notes. We are not perfumers but aficionados of fragrance. So lots of our information will come with links for further reading or text references. We are learning as you are learning, or refreshing.

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Galbanum: Notes on Notes

This month Old Herbaceous picked the note, Galbanum. One of my favourite notes in perfumery and so versatile. I’m very bummed I couldn’t find my bottle of DSH Perfumes Giverny In Bloom. It’s the best galbanum rich perfume I have ever smelled. Do yourself a favour and try it, if you like a floral super green.


What is Galbanum? From Wikipedia: Galbanum is an aromatic gum resin and a product of certain (celery, carrot or parsley family) Persian plant species in the genus Ferula. Galbanum-yielding plants grow plentifully on the slopes of the mountain ranges of northern Iran. It occurs usually in hard or soft, irregular, more or less translucent and shining lumps, or occasionally in separate tears, of a light-brown, yellowish or greenish-yellow colour. Galbanum has a … bitter taste, a … musky odour, and an intense green scent.

How does Galbanum smell? Well, Wikipedia gives these descriptors; pine, evergreen, green bamboo, parsley, green apples, musk, or simply intense green. I’m going to add that galbanum adds the feeling of the perfectly smooth green glass stones you can find on the beach and rubbed against your cheek. It’s sheer, cool, satin like and beautiful. When added to other notes it can amplify, support, add breadth and give lift. Something rarely attributed to galbanum is its slightly feral animalic undertones.

How is Galbanum used in perfumery? Known to have been used since ancient Egyptian times in incense and perfumery.It was almost a ubiquitous additive for decades and is particularly well known as part of the chypre ingredient list. Galbanum is a necessary part of the green oeuvre and adds a certain something to fragrance across the board. Also, it’s lasting power is excellent, making it the perfect base to hold a fragrance together on.

In which perfumes will you find Galbanum?

Galbanum: Notes on Notes
Chamade Guerlain, Bas de Soie Serge Lutens


Guerlain Chamade

Chamade makes me smile. That opening hit of aldehydes, galbanum and spring florals made slightly tropical by ylang and vanilla is its very own self. I can’t think of another that seems to do it so effortlessly. Though I’m sure there are other animalics involved I’m thinking it’s the galbanum that is doing double time as green and growly. Here galbanum is not the king but playing in ensemble.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie

A huge breath of spring, yes I know I’m repeating myself. Even in our cold, rainy autumn here in Sydney I am transported to a springtime wonderland. Hyacinth, iris and musk blowing on a cool breeze of galbanum. Much greener and with more of a bite on open than Chamade I love the way this dark forest floor gets hit by sunlight through its life and becomes warmed through. Bas de Sole is galbanum and the other notes bit players on me.

Please go check out Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities and see what OH has to add to the Notes on Notes about Galbanum.

What are your favourite fragrances with Galbanum listed as a note?
Portia xx

34 thoughts on “Galbanum: Notes on Notes

  1. I love the sharp green note of galbanum; it’s one of the top notes that really stand out for me. I immediately think of Chanel No 19 when talking about this note. I have an old mini of Givenchy III which I should dig out, as that is also supposed to be a galbanum scent.

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  2. Must de Cartier
    Emilio Pucci Sole 149
    Ralph Lauren Safari
    Patou Vacances
    Vintage Niki de Saint Phalle (notes are listed as “green” but I swear there’s galbanum in there)
    and of course classic Chanel no 19

    I am sure I could come up with a dozen more…years ago I used to add a drop of galbanum e.o. to various blends….it’s extraordinarily potent but adds such a beautiful green layer.

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  3. Oooh yes, gimme some galbanum. No. 19 of course is right up there. Miss Dior from back in the day, and from recent times FM Synthetic Jungle. I probably have tons of other galbanum-rich frags but those are off the top of my head. I consider it to be a clean green rather than dark and mysterious.

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  4. Givenchy III
    No19 & No19 Poudre
    Vintage Miss Dior
    Eau de Campagne
    Eau de Soir
    Aerin Lilac Path
    Cerruti 1881
    Vent Vert

    I’m sure many Estée Lauder’s earlier scents were galbanum bombs too. Estee Super, original Private Collection & Azuree positively exude galbanum to me

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  5. I’m adding Anais Anais my list! Sampling it again right now after 40 years have passed and while researching the notes saw galbanum.

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  7. Ooohhhh, I love galbanum in perfumes ❤
    Some of my old galbanum loves include the first Giorgio Armani, Givenchy III, Mystere de Rochas…the newer ones are Weekend by Patricia de Nicolai and Puredistance Antonia.


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