All the perfumes and perfume ingredients that we produce in our factories are modelled to a greater or lesser extend on those found in nature. Smell and taste are the oldest of our senses. Diurnal birds and aquatic animals rely heavily on sound; man and a few primates rely on the vision; but all other species use smell and taste, the chemical senses, as the dominant medium through which they obtain information about the world in which they live. Since smell is such an important source of information for us, it is not surprising that nature has developed a very sensitive and sophisticated system for the analysis of the chemicals which make up our environment. It is important to note that the tongue only detects sweet, salty, sour and bitter, the rest of taste is, in fact, smell. The volatile flavour ingredients are vaporized in the mouth and reach the nose through the airways behind the roof of the mouth.
Living organisms also use the chemical senses as a means of communication. If the communication is between different parts of the same organism, the messenger is referred to as hormone. If the signal is between two members of the same species, the messenger is called a pheromone. Plants also produce chemicals to attract or ward off insects. Some of the odorous chemicals that have a pleasant smell are used by man as a perfume ingredient, e.g. the shrub Commiphpra abyssinica produces a resin that contains a number of antibacterial and antifungal compounds. The role of the resin is to seal the wound and prevent bacteria and fungi from entering and damaging the plant, it also has a pleasant small, and so it is used as a perfume ingredient known as myrrh.