American Chestnut Smells
This past year, I’ve been in a continuous learning mode with the American Chestnut. With each month, it seems, I learn a little bit more. Sometimes through conversations, sometimes through American Chestnut Foundation events, or sometimes through the good ole Internet. I think no property of the tree demonstrates my increasing knowledge more aptly than the tree’s flowers… or rather, the smell of those flowers.
“I just drive around with my windows rolled down and when I smell one, I stop.” he said.
So that prompted someone to ask, “What do they smell like?”
That was a perfect question to be fielded by Kathy Marmet, the VP of Education for the American Chestnut Foundation.
“They smell very… organic.” she said.
Fast forward to June 26th. When Tony and I were rollerblading in Radford we talked about chestnut flowers and I mentioned I heard they smelled “organic”.
“Oh yeah!” he agreed, “They smell like semen.”
He rattled off that last bit so matter-of-factly, like he was describing the sky being blue.
It is now October and I’m continuing my education on the American Chestnut. I’m currently reading American Chestnut: The Life, Death and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree. Chapter 4 starts off with a discussion of the catkin flowers and says “A blossoming chestnut is beautiful, but the smell is not.” The book repeats Tony’s observation and then it shares an even more vivid description of what the odor is like:
“a whorehouse on a hot summer’s day“
I have yet to smell full blooming flowers for myself, but thanks to my ongoing studies, I think I have a very good idea what to expect.
Continuing education can certainly be effective. Here is a quick graph that shows how my perception has changed as I learned more on the subject.