Nature Blog Network

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Winter" Wildflowers III

Yellow coneflower, orbs on sticks before seed loss, in three stages of dispersal. This plant's seeds have a very special smell, which I can't describe -- it reminds me of rye, but I don't think it actually smells of rye... but it's earthy spiciness makes me think of it. Smells are funny... very powerful, but very hard to describe. Kids will always smell things and tell me they smell like cinnamon or lemon or pizza, when (to me) they smell nothing like any of these things. In fact, sometimes it's the same thing and three different kids will smell it and describe it as lemon, pizza and cinnamon. (I always tell them they must have strange kitchens.) But really, I think our vocabularies just don't have language for smells the way they do for textures, shapes, etc. So it has to smell like something else that you can pinpoint. And if it doesn't, there's not enough words... which is strange. I mean, if I say something smells like autumn leaves, you can probably imagine what it smells like. But what adjectives can you use to describe that smell? Crunchy doesn't describe smell... I don't know... OK. Enough of this.

1 comment:

  1. The flower heads emit a strong anise smell when crushed, the seed heads were used to add aroma and flavor to tea by natives and settlers, and the roots were and still are used to cure toothache by herbalists.
    Anise can certainly be a hard smell to identify, i had to look it up myself, we have disjunctive populations of this plant in our cedar glades.

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