08 April 2010

The Lusty Smell of Spring

Pedestrians strolling along many an avenue or boulevard on America's east coast lately may have noticed a pungent, slightly putrid and sickly sweet odor lacing the hot spring air. Perceptive types know that the odor comes from those ubiquitous trees that are suddenly awash in pretty white flowers -- a species my roommate fondly refers to as "the pussy trees."  I (as you may have guessed by now) wouldn't know about that, but have also heard people claiming the blossoms smell like "spooge," or whatever juvenile slang you want to put there.

For those of you who never took the time to investigate what the hell these trees are, allow me: Pyrus calleryana, or Callery Pear, is native to China and is named for the French missionary who introduced the tree to the western hemisphere. The most populous variety in the U.S. is a cultivar called the Bradford Pear, and while the scent of its flowers is near unavoidable from March to May, it is known to vary from year to year.

I tell you, this must be a bad year.

Photo by Jason Coleman, via flickr.

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