Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Scent of Katsuras

In early November I took a walk around the neighborhood one cool but pleasant morning, and was delighted to catch the unmistakable sweet smell of katsuras.

In autumn their leaves smell so distinctively of vanilla, or cotton candy, or burnt sugar.

There was one on Quail Run, and then two at the top of Arrowwood. But the amazing thing was that in the early part of November, the leaves were all down. I did not even notice that there were katsura trees nearby until I caught that fragrance, then looked around, and there I was, standing right near a katsura that was completely denuded.

I'm starting to be able to tell a katsura from the furrowed bark and shape, although it's hard without any heart shaped leaves to check. But the scent was so unmistakable!

There were brown leaves, dry and crunchy, at the foot of each tree. No leaves remained on the branches. Can it be that the aroma lingers in the dried, fallen leaves? Wow.

Jim can't smell the fragrance at all, although he knows what I am talking about since he did get the wafting scent from a whole stand of katsuras in the parking lot at Cornell Plantations when we were there in October 2012.

Our newly planted one did not have any fragrance, but it was just transplanted, so I need to give it time.

I thought it was the coloring of the leaves in fall that produced the sweet fragrance. But all three of the trees I saw on my walk were bare. They had lost all their leaves and even the piles at the base of the trunks were just a few dried remnants, not a big pile of freshly fallen leaves.

But the sugary vanilla - caramel scent was immediately noticeable and made me stop and look.