Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Fennel after rain - and smells
Sometimes (actually, very rarely), I take a photograph that I'm really pleased with. This is one of them. The species is Fennel and I was taken by the raindrops that had hung on to the linear structure of the plant. Every time that I come across Fennel I have to pick a bit and rub it between my fingers. If you've never done so I urge you to try it. It smells of aniseed or licquorice depending on your olofactory set-up. This is one attribute of botany that a lot of people miss - smell. And by that I don't necessarily mean sniffing a fragarant bloom. Plenty of species have aromatic leaves although try snorting those of Black Horehound and you'll wish you hadn't.
Various labiates are full of minty, lemony and herby sniffs (they are herbs after all!). Other families smell of curry, mice (no, really) and fish (yes, really!). One of my favourites is borne out of being (a) rare and (b) Dungeness based. Nottingham Catchfly is a modest white-flowered species that is very local in distribution but abundant at Dungeness. Because you cannot find the plant elsewhere in such profusion, the smell that thousands of plants let out - only in the evening - is something that you can only experience on the fabled shingle peninsula (and possibly a handful of other places). I liken it to a delicate hyacinth, which will waft to you gently on the still air of a warm evening. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about that...