Springtime is generous with floral and fresh notes. Like a natural calendar that unfolds over the weeks, you can discover a variety of delicate to heady notes when you put your mind to it wherever you are, at the florist's, the farmer's market, or the countryside.
White Broom or Retama Monosperma, Bridal Veil Broom or Genêt Blanc is one of those discreetly sensual notes of spring that can insistently permeate the air thanks to its strength in numbers. It seems to concentrate the essential olfactory imprint of the renewal of nature in its aroma and even though it is a flower in the flesh, it seems to embody the general abstract, ideal scent of spring...
As I have been immersing myself in green notes lately, broom could not but lasso me in with its scent tendrils. Its multitude of small white flowers that look like grains of rice thrown in an inspired volley onto long green sprays of slender stems, or little blind moths waiting to open their wings, has the capacity to lightly sweeten the air without being too characteristic and limited in its olfactory scope. In fact, smelling a bouquet of broom makes you perceive the latitude of the scales it can do.
The plant has notes of sweet honeyed floral vagueness - the mellifluous scent of spring - and green crunchy ones; it can smell a bit of the balmy air of the forest, and to modern noses, of a natural green herbal shampoo accord; it edges towards hay-like when a little dry and when profusely wet, it starts smelling like the sea, more precisely of deep green algae; it also contains some manure notes in its arsenal, being able to trick you into thinking that it is living by a heap of cow dung or close by a sheep barn or not far from horse stables. It is perhaps for this reason that broom was traditionally believed to be able to tame wild horses and dogs thanks to its smell. The mythology, history, and folklore of broom is rich, like its aromatic scales.
The plant also has a very soft doughy aroma making you think of a freshly knead ball of dough that has just been sprinkled with water, with perhaps a hint of marzipan. Then you perceive the more precise tonality of sweet rice flour and realize that white broom does smell, not just looks like grains of rice. Perhaps that subliminally your nose had already picked on the olfactory cue, before your own conscious thoughts did, that broom has something in common with rice that is invisible to the eye. Perhaps you now wonder, it smells like little white moths.
Photo credit: Eric in SF