Happy 4th of July...And What does Skunk Cabbage Smell Like? {Scented Thoughts - Journal}

4th-July-TSS.jpgHope everyone is having a lovely 4th-of-July weekend! There are still fireworks planned for this evening so the festivities are not quite over yet in the part of the country where we are. The other day the countryside smelled fresh and cool in the evening mixed with gunpowder.

I took some olfactory notes on Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus Feotidus) or Swamp Cabbage. Depending on whether you smell the crushed leaves or stem, the smells differ slightly.

Despite its name, the plant is not repulsive at all, making you think more of savory culinary associations and wondering whether it might work in a recipe. This source indicates that Native Americans even used skunk cabbage as an underarm deodorant, which points in the direction of a buttery, garlicky aroma being considered attractive, as it is in some other cultures....

You have to smell the leaves right after they were crushed to get the full aromatic impact. Then they smell of garlic butter mixed with aromatic herbs (think escargots de Bourgogne) with a whiff of sulfurous rotten eggs and a hint of vulcanized black rubber; there are also herbaceous, resinous and more pungent garlicky nuances as the scent evolves. The leaves, which look like parasols smell a bit more complex than the stem.

The stem itself releases aromas of what one could term "onion breath", pungent garlic, butter; the scent is also green and stem-y.

One of the interesting characteristics of this plant is that it displays thermogenesis. An explanation invoked for the existence of this mechanism is that it helps propagate the scent in the air. (see Wikipedia)

This was my olfactory notation of the day on the 4th of July... a little change from barbecue smells.

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