I have received a few intriguing comments on my previous postings on the lovely shrub, pink breath of heaven, regarding its smell. When I gently rub the needles between my fingers, I smell a pleasant, aromatic, herbal scent. For some of my readers, they beg to differ!
They report that the plant smells like poop – very un-heavenly, to say the least. What can account for this difference?
I do not know the answer but very much welcome explanations (with substantiation if possible) as to why there is this difference in smell experience.
I am assuming that those who complain of the smell of this plant are not located near a sewage system or have a problem of animals visiting their gardens and defecating or urinating around these particular plants while there.
Absent these scenarios, I’ve conjured up a possible explanation: (1) the presence of sulfides, in the soil (and plant food) and/or plant itself, or other such stinky chemical compound, coupled with (2) a heightened smell and taste sensitivity of the gardener.
This explanation, if true, would be fascinating, evocative of the classic “tasters vs. non-tasters” test to determine who had bitter-taste sensitivity to phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). PTC is the chemical that causes the bitter taste in the brassica vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. PTC also contains sulfur.
For commenters who have reported on the stinkiness of this plant, do you find that you dislike the brassica vegetables because of their bitterness? If so, then this may another instance of the variation in the PTC gene expressing itself. Being able to detect potentially toxic foods (based on their bitterness) is adaptive, so, as a lover of the brassica vegetables, I may be in trouble!
So, for the geneticists, botanists, and other researchers and experts on this topic of the smell of the pink breath of heaven, this is a Call for Expertise: What is the reason for the difference in smell experience regarding the pink breath of heaven shrub? Please let me know (especially if my PTC explanation holds water!).
Those who would like more information on the genetics research behind PTC “tasters vs. non-tasters” can read more about this topic here: http://www.genetics.org/content/172/4/2015.full
Filed under: Gardening | Tagged: Coleonema pulchellum I. Williams, confetti bush, Diosma pulchra, Gardening, genetics, phenylthiocarbamide, pink breath of heaven, pink breath of heaven smells, pink breath of heaven stinks, pink diosma, shrub, shrubs, smell of confetti bush, smell of pink breath of heaven, smell of pink diosma |