Scent to greet us

Over the past few weeks my wife and I have been met with a particular scent as we came round the corner, by the bowling green, towards the Thrive pavilion. I was stumped as to where it was coming from but it was rather powerful. My wife thought it might be Viburnum as there is plenty of it around, but not here, and the scent was rather more heady than a Viburnum.

Anyway it took a couple of weeks of passing by it before we realised an evergreen tree had white flowers. I stopped to pull a branch down and sniff the flowers and sure enough, this was the tree. It turns out it is a Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), the same laurel used to make laurel wreaths and to add a leaf or two to your pasta sauce. The Bay laurel is dioecious which means it has male and female flowers on separate trees. This tree is producing flowers with an abundance of stamen – filaments and anthers – so it is a male tree. There are some other ‘bits’ in my photos which I think are the empty stalks from flower heads that have finished and dropped off. I don’t think they are female parts. I’m never certain about these things and I’ll eat my words if this tree produces fruit in the Autumn. There is at least one other Bay laurel that I’ve noticed with flower buds not quite open yet. I’ll take photos when it does to see if they are the same or if it is, perhaps, a female tree.

If there are female Laurels about then they need to get their skates on and have some of their flowers open soon to coincide with the male flowers. The male tree, by the bowling green, has spent quite a bit of its flowers but there are quite a few yet that have not opened. This is, apparently, a strategy that trees employ to ensure that bees and other pollinators keep coming back and don’t get all the nectar from a tree with just one visit. It is not a random occurrence but controlled by hormones within the tree signalling when flowers have been pollinated and so it is time to open more flowers.

There is another evergreen tree just a few metres to the left of this one, next to the notice-board. It is a Box-leaf Azara and smells of vanilla or chocolate. It should be producing its tiny yellow flowers in the next couple of weeks or so. That is something to look forward to.

3 responses to “Scent to greet us”

  1. Hello, hope I got this right.
    -The Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) tree in the garden is a dioecious tree, meaning it has male and female flowers on separate trees
    -The Bay laurel is a male tree that has spent its flowers but there are still plenty of flowers left to be opened
    -The Bay laurel tree produces flowers with an abundance of stamen – filaments and anthers – so it is a male tree
    -The Box-leaf Azara tree next to the Bay laurel is a female tree that is producing its tiny yellow flowers in the next couple of weeks or so
    Thanks so much!


      1. The Azara may have ‘regular’ flowers with male & female parts just like you’d expect in a rose, but smaller. Not 100% sure, I’m finding this out as I go along.


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