Cucumber

Cucumber. You are perhaps the oldest vegetable cultivated by humans, with your traces found in ancient sites older than 3,000 years. The Uruk King Gilgamesh was already praising your health benefits, more than four millenniums ago. Gourds, melons, and cantaloupes are all members of your great family.  Your aroma and fragrance are so fresh and…

Geranium or Pelargonium?

Crane, Heron, and Stork. Three large aquatic birds with long legs, a feathery crest, and an impressive beak. The resemblance of the seed pods to the bird is what made the naturalists and biologists name the family Geraniaceae and divide them into three genera: Geraniums (geranós:  crane in Greek), Erodiums (erodiós:  heron in Greek) and Pelargoniums (pelargós: stork in Greek). These…

Her Majesty Jasmine

Her Majesty Jasmine. The perfumer Edmond Roudnitska said once that “if Rose is the queen of the flowers, Jasmine is the queen of the fragrances.” Thanks to you, Grasse, in South of France, metamorphosed from a filthy and stinky leather tanning town to the world’s  capital of perfume. The Moors, who discovered you in South…

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle. What a funny name for a funny bine. Day after day, you spiral and climb around your vegetal neighbors to get the best spot under the sun. Butterflies and hummingbirds are crazy about your nectar, and the children have also learned how to taste your honey by pulling your pistil from the bottom. You are classified as…

Lily of the Valley

 Lily of the Valley. There is always a wild side to an innocent face, and your cute white bells hide a poisonous nature. You are celebrated since the antiquity where you symbolized Mary’s tears and were in the lyrics of the Song of Songs of Salomon. In the language of the flowers, you are the symbol…

Camphor Tree

Camphor Tree. Cousin of cinnamon and laurel, you are a sacred tree in the Far East. Your hardwood makes the most precious trunks,  protecting their content against all sort of pests. Your white crystallized blood, called camphor, was once upon a time a very precious substance. Without you, battlefields would have been covered with smoke, billiard…

Glorious Lilac

Glorious Lilac. Your natural bluish color is the root of your name, as the Arabic for it is lilak. Your hollow branches, similar to a reed, reminded the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus of the legend of the Satyr Pan chasing the nymph Syrinx who transformed herself into a hollow reed. Your Latin name, derived from Syrinx, is…

Sakura

Sakura, sakura,              (Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,) Ya-yo-I-no so-ra-wa,         (In the Spring sky,) Mi-watasu kagiri               (as far as eyes can see) Ka-su-mi-ka ku-mo-ka,    (is it fog or is it a cloud?) Ni-o-i-zo i-zu-ru                …

Primordial Magnolia

Primordial Magnolia. You are one of the first to announce Spring when other flowers are still lolling in the comfort of their bud. Your magnificence is on par with the magic of your fragrance. In spite of being one of the most ancient flowers known on our planet Earth, your beauty is still unaltered after almost one…

Osmanthus Fragrans

Osmanthus Fragrans. An ancient Chinese legend sees you as a giant tree growing on the Moon, shading the light of the celestial body. Wu Gang, in his quest of becoming immortal, was sent by the Emperor to the moon to cut the self-healing osmanthus, in vain. It is in this autumn equinoctial time that the Chinese celebrate the…