You may remember that last week I was very excited about receiving a Pandanus amaryllifolius I'd ordered from Gardino Nursery. I placed the order on a Friday, had confirmation it had shipped the following Tuesday, and received it in the mail on Friday again. Which, one week between placing the order and receiving the plant isn't bad at all.
And for about the first ten minutes, I was pretty happy. It was packed well, and the plant was a decent size:
So naturally I set about trying to smell it, because smelling the plant and figuring out why anybody would want to cook with it was the entire point of getting one in the first place. And . . . nothing. The plant itself doesn't appear to have an odor. So I pulled off a leaf and sniffed the broken end. Nothing. Then I furiously ground the leaf between my hands and sniffed. I'd describe the smell as being about equal parts cut grass and mushrooms, but not the good, earthy, fresh-smelling kind of mushroom smell. It was more the musty, quiet-rot kind of mushroom smell.
So this was already pretty disappointing already. (The husband suggests that maybe there's no pleasant aroma until the leaves are cooked, that heat is a critical ingredient in the process. Which is possible. I won't know for a while, for reasons I'll get to.) I took some pictures to document the plant anyway, because even if it looks pretty much the same as P. veitchii, I like P. veitchii, and amaryllifolius at least has much tinier marginal spines on the leaves (they're still there, but only barely, and they don't hurt, plus amaryllifolius doesn't appear to have any spines at all under the leaves along the midrib, which is helpful). And I try to get pictures of all new plants anyway, in case I want to write a post about them later, or need to prove that they've grown, or whatever. And picture-taking went fine for a little while.
And then I turned the plant to get a different angle and discovered -- mealybugs!
So. More picture-taking, followed by an e-mail to Gardino, showing them the mealybugs and asking for a refund or replacement.
["Jeopardy" music plays]
A couple hours later, I got an e-mail back from Gardino, saying that of course they'd send a replacement, and they were very sorry for any inconvenience, and so on, which was both A) an impressively quick response and B) more or less exactly what I wanted to hear. I was told that someone would contact me within a couple days regarding the replacement.
On Sunday night, someone contacted me about the replacement. Specifically, he apologized, again, and said he could send a clean replacement but wanted to know whether I wanted them to treat the plant first for bugs, just in case some were hiding or whatever. (Which is fair: mealybugs will hide.) I e-mailed back Sunday night to say that I did want the plant sprayed. (I wasn't planning on cooking with it anyway: my interest had always only been in smelling the plant.) And that was the last of the communication, as of Wednesday (yesterday) night. I don't doubt that they're sending a replacement plant, but I'm surprised they didn't say when they were sending it.
I'm undecided about whether or not it's worth hanging on to the first plant. I can't imagine I'll ever trust it not to have bugs, but at the same time, throwing it out seems like an overreaction. So far, I've given it a rubbing-alcohol rubdown, followed by being neemed to within an inch of its life for three or four days in a row, and then I put it outside on the north side of the plant room, this being the only spot I had available for plants that couldn't handle full sun where it wouldn't get mealybugs on anything else I cared about.
So overall, Pandanus amaryllifolius has been a disappointment so far, though very little of that is Gardino's fault, and they've been very nice about fixing the part that was their fault. So I'd buy from them again, why not.
The question remains: I would like to know how one is supposed to get a pleasant, edible-type smell out of the plant, 'cause musty grass doesn't really do it for me. James Missier? Autumn Belle? Anybody?