Absolue de fleur d’immortelle (Helichrysum italicum)
The spicy, herbaceous aroma of immortelle absolute is highly sought after in perfumery. It can also be used in cosmetics for its soothing effect on the skin and as a fixative in perfumes, making fragrances lasting longer on the skin.
Belonging to the sunflower (or Asteracaea) family, the herb is native throughout the Mediterranean and is mainly cultivated in Spain and Portugal. This perennial plant forms shrubs of narrow silver-green leaves, with fuzzy, white stems. Atop these stems are bright golden flowers that have no petals. Instead, they are made up of dry, shiny bracts - a special type of leaf, like a hybrid of foliage and petal, which is usually found at the base of the flower. This feature means that the flowers can remain eternally in bloom, hence the name ‘everlasting flowers’ in English and immortelle in French, which means 'immortal'.
The flower is truly a sun-worshipping plant in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the phrase; they prefer to grow in a hot environment with arid soil and were used by Ancient Greeks to create crowns for Apollo, God of the sun and light.