The tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial plant of the agave family Agavaceae, extracts of which are used as a middle note in perfumery. The common name derives from the Latin tuberosa, meaning swollen or tuberous in reference to its root system. It consists of about 12 species. Polianthes means “many flowers” in Greek language.
The tuberose is a night-blooming plant thought to be native to Mexico along with every other species of Polianthes. The Aztecs called it Omixochitl [oh me’ zu che’ tl] or bone flower.
It is a prominent plant in Indian culture and mythology. The flowers are used in wedding ceremonies, garlands, decoration and various traditional rituals. Its Hindi name is “Rajnigandha”, though it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Raat ki Rani” (“Queen of the Night”), which is really Cestrum nocturnum. The name Rajnigandha means “night-fragrant” (rajni=night; gandha=fragrance). In Bengali, it is called “Rajoni-Gandha”, meaning “Scent of the Night”. In Marathi, it is called “Nishi-Ghanda”. In parts of South India, it is known as “Sugandaraja”, which translates to “king of fragrance/smell”. In Chinese, it is called WanXiangYu 晚香玉, which means “night fragrance”. In Indonesia it is called “bunga sedap malam”, meaning night fragrant flower. In Tamil Nadu it is called as Sambangi or nilasambangi, in Andhra Pradesh it is called as “Sampangi” and traditionally used in all type of garlanding especially in south Indian marriages. In Cuba it is called “azucena” which is the name given to amaryllis in Mexico.