Let it never be said that I do not make sacrifices for BPotD. To get this close to a eurya in flower requires setting aside the urge to leave quickly. In the garden’s interpretative sign for Eurya japonica, the scent is described as “exceptionally malodorous”. I think I can go one step (but not two) beyond that here – part of the scent is metallic in nature, like that of wet rust or tin. It is safe to assume that the odour of the flowers is the reason for the removal of the eurya growing near the doors of the Shop in the Garden. This was done as part of a recent redesign of the garden’s front entrance.
During the process of confirming the family information for this genus, it became apparent that the interpretative sign requires an update. On the sign, the plant is described as a camellia relative – this is now only true in a broad sense. A combination of recent molecular work and a review of the morphological properties has clarified the evolutionary relationships of Eurya, such that placing it in the Theaceae (the tea or camellia family) is no longer supported. Instead, the Pentaphylacaceae is a far better fit. I note with some interest that the Pentaphylacaceae have the familial property of being aluminum accumulators; I wonder if there is a correlation between the scent of the flowers and that property.
Botany resource link: It’s been a resource link before, but it certainly deserves the honour of being the first site to receive a second mention – Scott’s Botanical Links celebrated ten years of entries yesterday. Since February 7, 1996, Dr. Scott Russell of the University of Oklahoma has been compiling a list of botanical resources on the web. I highly recommend subscribing to the site via email or the RSS feed.