Azucena or Tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa) have a very strong and distinctive fragrance. They are almost overpowering if left in a small unventilated room but are perfect for rooms with lots of space and flowing breezes that carry the fragrance in pleasant wafts around the area. The smell of azucena is similar to gardenias but can be even more cloying. I first noticed these flowers in Bali, Indonesia where they were frequently used in public arrangements in hotel lobbies, restaurants, etc. There was such an abundance of them there that you would see 50-80 stems generously stuffed into a basket and placed in the middle of a large lobby. Turns out we grow them in the Philippines as well but these are less abundant. Tuberoses are a perennial bulb that tend to prefer cooler weather, so I presume ours are grown up in the Mountain Province. If happy, their flower spikes can grow 3-4 feet long and have up to 30 flowers per spike. They originated from Mexico where it is said that the Aztecs used tuberose oils to flavor their chocolate. The oils are also heavily sought after today for perfumes.
I like to use tuberoses at the beach because they are easy to transport, sturdy, good-looking and possess that powerful fragrance that gets carried off by sea breezes. Recently, I placed just a few stems of single flower variety tuberoses in tall clear glass vases. The three vases in the photo above held less than PHP80 worth of flowers. As the blooms opened, you could easily see them up close and appreciate them in detail. Tuberoses also come in a double flower variety as seen in this second photo where there is greater bulk and more petals on the flowers. In this second arrangement, I stuffed over 36 stems of tuberoses in a large glass vase, with a total cost of about PHP250 if you buy them from the highway robbers who sell flowers roadside in Tagaytay. It would cost half of that if you trekked to the Dimasalang wholesale flower market.