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Re: High Kicker

Hi Bill, John, Chick, All,

I wanted to add a bit to the "smelling" controversy in hostas. On Bill's
side, his evaluation of good-smelling hostas goes hand in hand with what K.
Watanabe wrote in his little Japanese book on hostas (in Japanese). It goes
like this:

"One of the more important factors in evaluating hostas is fragrance. It
used to be said that H. plantaginea and H. plantaginea japonica are the only
ones with fragrance. But there are fragrant forms of H. pycnophylla, H.
pulchella and H. venusta! (Examples given are Shiho, Nioi no Mai, Hogyoku,
Kunpu, Asuka and Otome no Ka)."

So much for the Japanese olfactory sense. Mine is not so good, but
Hildegarde's is and I let her be the judge of what is fragrant and what is
not (my Honeybells draw her out into the garden every summer). And herein
lies the problem. The olfactory nerves are part of the cranial nerve bundle
terminate in the olfactory bulb. They are numbered by medical folks. The
sense of smell being Roman numeral I and Sight (optical nerve) is number II.
Oh, well! The sense of smell is just as complicated as our sense of sight.
We can correct the latter by wearing glasses but if your nose is out of
kilter, there isn't much one can do. I am not saying that Watanabe's or
Bill's noses are out. They just smell those molecules differently from
others. Their olfactory bulb is hooked up "differently" and they smell
something others don't. That is perfectly normal, my family doctor tells me.
It's a miracle anyway how we can translate a few molecules reaching our
noses into a pleasant or not so pleasant sensation in our brains, or maybe
even nothing whatsoever.

This is where Chick comes in. Don't count your money yet. Your Halcyon
fragrance has not made it to mine nor most others olfactory bulbs yet so
trying to sell one might be a little difficult unless you pretreat the
blossoms with lilac perfume. Just kidding! It is true, the nectar in some
blossoms may release a few molecules of fragrance that can be detected by
those whose olefactory bulb is fine-tuned like Bill's. For the rest of us
mortal beings (and I am saying this being well aware that I am considered a
"hosta god" according to a picture I saw recently) the molecules get zapped
somewhere between our noses and the olfactory bulb in our cranial system. Or
maybe some of us have a permanently "stopped up" noses. As for rubber tires,
just like some folks have double vision or are red/green color blind, others
might well detect the smell of (burning?) rubber tires emanate from hosta
blossoms. It's the different ways our brains are wired.

The gist of this whole thing is that hostas should not be considered
fragrant unless they waft this olfactory gift all over the garden. If you
got to flop on your belly to detect the "fragrance" of H. venusta, we have
an olfactory detection problem and for some of us a "how in the heck am I
getting back up problem." And as for bringing hostas inside, be aware that
the nectar will absorb molecules from the inside air movements. Burning any
rubber tires inside, Bill? Just kidding. W. George

W. George Schmid
Hosta Hill - Tucker Georgia USA
Zone 7a - 1188 feet AMSL
84-12'-30" West_33-51' North

----- Original Message -----
From: <Jaspersail@aol.com>
To: <hosta-open@hort.net>
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 2:13 AM
Subject: Re: High Kicker

> Thanks for the information, W. George and Bill.
> Bill, do you have any Chick memorabilia that smells like burnt rubber?
  ; )
> Wow, I've never noticed flowers from 'Halcyon', rupifraga, or longipes
> seedlings having any fragrance -- I'll have to use my nose a little more
> year.  Very interesting.  I assume your yard doesn't have a privacy fence
> lilacs to hide the rubber tire factory next door...   ; )
> --John
> <<I have noticed that several other hostas without plantagenia in their
> backgrounds have faint flower fragrances that are clearly different. Not
> of these are pleasant smells, but they are not in any way similar to
> plantagenia. One of the pleasant ones is 'Halcyon' which smells somewhat
> like lilac. The smell is faint, and may be more noticeable on cool
> At times I can't smell it, but other times I've smelled it from 2-3 feet
> away. Another one with fragrance is one of the plants that was going
> as rupifraga. I had brought it indoors in cool fall weather to use it for
> hybridizing and found it had a fairly strong burnt-rubber sort of smell
> wasn't pleasant at all. I think I noticed a couple other faintly
> smells among longipes seedlings. None of these plants had anything more
> faint smells that only some people could smell at all even with the
> held up to their noses. >>
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