Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Question for the Hive Mind: It Smelled Like Cookies

I predict I'm going to feel stupid for asking this soon, but I must know what this is:

(Flowers, some foliage. Color is approximately true.)

(Fruits. Degree of ripeness unknown.)

Piersons had them in Cedar Rapids when we visited. My sense of smell is fairly sensitive but not particularly well-calibrated (I smell odd, random things that nobody else can smell, or that others can smell but don't think they smell like what I think they smell like, fairly regularly), so I don't know how many people would share my impression, but to me, the flowers smelled considerably like freshly-baked sugar cookies. Which I think we can agree is a strange thing for flowers to smell like.

I had the husband check it out too, and he said, "anise?" Which, I dunno, maybe. (The husband's nose is, he claims, of low sensitivity and unknown accuracy.) I'm not particularly clear on what anise smells like.

I probably should have just asked at Piersons, but I'd already asked a Brugmansia question that occupied the entire staff for a good fifteen minutes or so, and it didn't seem right to get everybody running all over again. (I only wanted to know whether the smallish, flowerless $10 Brugmansias they had were the same variety as the larger, more expensive one with gorgeous pink-orange blooms they had at the door. Nobody knew for sure, though they told me yes, probably, to try to make the sale anyway. The husband talked me out of buying one. Or, more accurately, I think I talked him into talking me out of buying one, and then resented him for doing so, if you follow me. So now I have acute Brugmansia envy.)

But back to the plant at hand: I'm fairly certain we never had this where I worked, and it doesn't seem like an indoor kind of plant, but that's as much as I know. Anybody?

UPDATE: Savannah, by e-mail, suggests Duranta erecta 'Geisha Girl' (which may or may not be the same as 'Sweet Memories'). Not positive about the cultivar, but the davesgarden.com profile for 'Sweet Memories' includes a comment that it smells like chocolate, the profile for 'Geisha Girl' includes a description of the fragrance as vanilla, and the profile for the (also blue) 'Sapphire Showers' says "flowers have a light candy-like fragrance." So we're definitely in an edible-smelling neighborhood, and I'm fairly certain this is the right species, whatever the variety.

Also, as best as I can tell, they're not at all indoor plants, and are sometimes problematic plants outdoors too. Which I'd suspected.

Thanks, Savannah!


Maranta said...

Can't help you with this particular plant, but I can sympathize with a questionably calibrated olfactory which cries baked goods where none exist... people always look at me like I'm nuts when I say that senescent Cercidiphyllum leaves smell like brown sugar. Don't back down; stand proud by your nose!

Lance said...

I don't know about the flower but anise has a licorice-like flavor and odor. Used often in cookies of old-world variety. As well as a lot of liquors.

Quite nice if you like licorice, which I do.

sheila said...

I have been known to have olfactory hallucinations of buttered popcorn or burning rubber (but not at the same time).

telipogon said...

Looks a bit like Plumbago to me, though its not quite right looking....