Rare, exquisite and brightly coloured, there has never been a successful attempt to grow Tagimoucia anywhere else in the world, despite the efforts of countless scientists, horticulturalists, explorers and travellers.
Once upon a time, on the island of Taveuni in Fiji, there was a beautiful princess. She had fallen deeply in love with a young man, but her father had promised her to another.
Heartbroken, the princess ran away from her village, into the far reaches of the island’s forests. Eventually exhausted, she reached a lofty mountain ridge, and falling to her knees, wept for her lost love.
For weeks, the village warriors searched high and low for the princess, following the sounds of her crying. But when they reached the mountain ridge, the princess was gone. All they could find was a mysterious new flower — chains of red and white blossoms, hanging from nearby trees.
For every tear, a flower. Or so the legend goes.
The Tagimoucia only blooms once a year on Taveuni, a 30-minute boat ride from COMO Laucala Island. Each evening at dusk, though the flower grows miles away across the water, the air is redolent with the scent in a single spot on Laucala, near the mangroves on the island’s western shores.
It’s a scent that once you’ve visited the island, you can never forget. But there’s a reason for that — and it’s science, not a fairytale.
When we inhale, a chemical particle triggers the brain’s olfactory bulbs, where the sensation is then carried to the amygdala, where emotions are processed. It then moves into the adjoining hippocampus, where learning and memories form. Scent, to put it simply, is the sense that travels quickest to the brain’s core parts. All our other senses — sight, touch, sound — travel through a much more extensive ‘switchboard’ before reaching the core. The result is a deep connection between emotions, memories and smell.
Scent is bound with emotion in a way sight and sound is not. What starts with a simple smell evolves into a whole scene
So while we might think of our holidays in terms of pictures of pristine sands and azure seas, the deeper trigger for memory is often in the air around us. Scent is bound with emotion in a way sight and sound is not. What starts with a simple smell evolves into a whole scene: crimson and white blooms, waves lapping, birds chattering. And the scent of the Tagimoucia is all that and more; it’s the evocation of not just memory but legend. It can’t be bottled into a perfume to take home. Its rarity is its preciousness. With one scent, a connection to a place where you were happy to be.