The nectar-less ghost flower (mohavea confertiflora) that grows in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts has ingenious strategies for attracting pollinators: it mimics the appearance of another desert flower with lots of nectar, and the ghost flower's center markings are shaped like a female bee (Xeralictus) — here come the male bees to do their work!
It's a difficult assignment for a perfumer to mimic the scent of a wild, desert flower. The desert flowers I've smelled possess a "certain something" I've never encountered in perfumes; they have "clear," fresh and clean aromas, with floral and fruity aspects that are hard to describe, let alone duplicate. I imagine a successful desert flower scent would smell fantastic, but wouldn't last too long on skin. Byredo Mojave Ghost1 attempts to mimic the scent of an exotic flower's perfume and to attract pollinators (buyers) but it's only partly successful. With Mojave Ghost, Byredo has a great name and imagery to draw upon, but has created an insipid fragrance that's more department store than niche.
Mojave Ghost opens with a rich and warm fruit accord; a combo of mamey and peach. These fruit notes are sweet, and soon more sweetness arrives with the scents of vanilla, and vanillic "chantilly" musk and amber. At times, I get hints of cedar and wood shavings (the sandalwood, perhaps), but never do magnolia or violet materialize, only a character-less, artificial "flower" note. As it dries on skin, Mojave Ghost's fruit notes become overripe, sour (the aroma is like the scent of very tangy peach yogurt); the extreme dry down smells stale. Mojave Ghost has so-so sillage and lasting power and, to my nose, is feminine, not unisex.
If you want to smell a real ghost flower, the blooming season is almost here; those of you in California, Nevada and western Arizona are close to the action. If you've smelled a ghost flower, please share your descriptions of its scent.
Byredo Mojave Ghost is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $145/$220 (truly, aspirational pricing!) For buying information, see the listing for Byredo under Perfume Houses.
1. Fragrance notes of: ambrette, mamey sapote, violet, magnolia, sandalwood, chantilly musk, 'crisp' amber, cedarwood.
Note: bottom image of a ghost flower via Wikimedia Commons.