Date: Fri, 13 May 1994 13:44:15 EDT
From: KDANN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Flower scent and dialect
"And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where it comes
and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand, therefore nothing is
more fit for that delight, than to know what be the flowers and plants that
do best perfume the airs."
Bacon may have believed that there was nothing "more fit for delight," but
few people these days seem to know "what be the flowers and plants that do
best perfume the airs." I've found that many folks are struck dumb when asked
to identify the source of a particularly cloying scent wafted on some June
breeze, be it in Nebraska or New Jersey. I'm curious to know what floral
fragrances--not so much of garden annuals or perennials, but of the woody
native and non-native plants (street trees in urban areas, for instance) that
make up your local landscape--are most familiar to people in your
neighborhood, and whether there are any distinctive local names for plants
based on their fragrance.
For example: I've always been interested in the host of plants whose flowers
give off a semen-like odor (gingko, barberry, etc.), and met someone here in
Arizona who calls an unidentified tree the "sex tree" because of this odor. I
think Linnaeus classified these smells as "Hircinae," i.e. goat-like in odor.
The ADS list members have such a treasure of linguistic idiosyncracy; any
botanical smell lore out there?
Scottsdale, AZ (where pineapple-smelling acacias now fill the air)