Fragrant Quote for September 15th, 2012-September Scents from The Atlantic, Volume 60

Thistle Flower

The compositae now almost have the field to themselves; though the pretty but inconspicuous blue curls and the mock pennyroyal add an appreciable flavor of mint to the clear September air, especially when we carelessly crush them under our feet.

There is a strong family likeness between the odors of flowers belonging to the same order, as well as in other characteristics. This is sometimes startling, and suggests large questions.

“ Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies, —
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower ; but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.”

The vast composite family so illustrates this relationship of scent that we may almost describe the September air as the fragrance of the composite. The Solidago odora is not the only goldenrod which contributes to the bouquet of this wine. All of us who love to be outdoors know when the air is full of the golden-rod, though we could not tell how we know. The purple asters blend imperceptibly with it, and the white everlastings, with their pearly, papery rays. Of course, the more obtrusive members of the family, yarrow and Mayweed and tansy, still hold their ground.

The thistles have a sweetish odor of their own, quite unlike that of their relatives, but the texture of their blossoms also differs from that of most of the other autumn compositae. Generally in September there is a certain pleasant vigor in the odors abroad in the air, which has little of the positive sweetness of earlier days, and which is due to the great mass of composite flowers in blossom. The sweetness which does mingle with this vigor comes from the ripening fruit, and is as different from that of spring as a shining red apple is different from a bough of appleblossoms.