Geoffrey Grigson might have started it. In their Englishman’s Flora for the 1950s he told just exactly how the French (who else?) placed branches of hawthorn outside the windows each and every young woman. “The stale, sweet fragrance through the triethylamine the flowers have makes them suggestive of sex.”
Richard Mabey picks this up in their current Flora Britannica, where he describes that “the triethlyamine in charge of the stale aspect in hawthorn’s complicated scent is just one of the very first chemicals produced whenever living tissue begins to decay” and reminds nurses that have worked in Africa for the odor of gangrene.
“Yet triethylamine’s fishy scent,” he continues on, “is additionally the odor of intercourse – one thing seldom acknowledged in folklore, but implicit in a lot of the popular tradition associated with the hawthorn.”
Charles Nelson, later of our nationwide Botanic Gardens, thinks that botanists “never agree about perfumes”. The Burren’s fragrant orchid, Gymnadenia conopsea, for instance, has plants that, for him, are perfumed with vanilla. “Others assert that the scent resembles cloves or plastic, which reminds me personally of this equation of old socks or fine old hock for the perfume of this Ca tree poppy – an aroma can be much when you look at the brain as beauty is within the attention associated with the beholder.”
But also he finds that hawthorn blossom “exudes that heavy fragrance that is musky intimate undertones”. He’s, needless to say, another Englishman, now located in pastoral bliss in Tippitiwichet Cottage, someplace in East Anglia.
Therefore, aided by the hawthorn hedges of this acre weighed straight down with quite unforgettable swags of snowy plants, the Vineys sought out for a sniff – also a couple of breaths that are deep. Continue reading