Guettarda speciosa L. - Rubiaceae - beach gardenia, zebra wood, kahaia (puamotu)
Evergreen shrub or small tree, 2-6m tall, native to the tropical coastlines around the Pacific Ocean; leaves oval, 15-23cm long, dark green, smooth above, with prominent paler veins, finely hairy underneath; white tubular flowers 2-3cm width, 3-5cm long, fragrant; fruit hard, globular 2.5cm in diameter, sweet-smelling.
„The flowers are nocturnal and open for only one night (Puff et al., Rubiaceae of Thailand, 130, 2005). The fruit of this species float and are dispersed by water, and apparently they are green when mature. This species is known to be distylous in Polynesia and E Africa (Bridson & Verdcourt, Fl. Trop. E. Africa, Rub. (Pt. 2), 416, 1988).“
„Tubular flowers occur from October to May, though may be seen at other times, and are fragrant; to 3cm long and white in colour. The fragrance is similar to, though weaker than, the commonly grown exotic gardenia.“
„Its fragrant flowers are used by girls who put them in their hair for the fragrance, string them into necklaces, and used them to prepare essential oil or perfume.“ https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2946
„The flowers were used to scent coconut oil on the Cook Islands, and the wood for dwellings and canoes.“
The highly fragile flowers open during twilight which for the following night emit a pleasing scent „…based on constituents also important to gardenia and honeysuckle species, just to mention the characteristic accord generated by linalool, jasmone, (Z)-hex-3-enyl benzoate, methyl jasmonate, jasmine lactone and indole.“ Main compounds found in the headspace of living flowers were (E)-ocimene (47.5%), (Z)-ocimene (4.8%), methyl salicylate (8.0%), linalool (7.5%), benzaldehyde (5.1%), benzyl alcohol (3.9%), and 2-phenylethyl alcohol (3.1%). Olfactory most important components were jasmone (0.3%), methyl trans (Z)-jasmonate (0.2%), jasmine lactone (0.07%) and indole (1.0%).
[Meaningful Scents around the World, Roman Kaiser, Zürich 2006, 135-136 and 237-238]
Koorders, S.H., Valeton, T., Atlas der Baumarten von Java, vol.3 t 543 (1915) [M.Mangoendimedjo]