Field of Science

Olives and Ashes

The botanical mind often makes funny associations, and so this blog was written to please Ms. Mary who specifically thinks April brings to mind lilacs, and lilacs, not April, make me think of olives and ashes. The reason for this is because lilacs and ashes are part of the olive family, Oleaceae, and this spring my teaching includes plant taxonomy. Most people are quite familiar with the rather handsome spring flowering shrubs in the olive family: lilacs, Forsythia, fringe trees (Chionanthus), and less well known members like dwarf forsythia (Abeliophyllum). Fringe tree remains my personal favorite ornamental shrub that isn’t a Magnolia. Maybe you have had tea perfumed with the flowers of Osmanthus, whose name means fragrant flower, and the well known but not so prettily flowered or attractively fragrant privet. Perhaps you have not associated the famous aroma of jasmines to the more mundane, but still exquisite fragrance of lilacs, and somehow connecting these beauties to ashes and olives seems odd, but that is the way of classification. It isn't based on our impressions.

1 comment:

Pat said...

When the weather is very hot privet flowers can be delightful. Seldom in the UK, but in the south of Spain it can be exquisite. Not as good as jasmine but delightful all the same.

I have never encountered Fraxinus ornus in bloom but the flowers apparently have a lovely fragrance. Not what you expect from an Ash.