Bay Rum, Curry Leaf and Patchouli

Bay Rum, Curry Leaf and Patchouli

If there was one word that could describe the month of May here at The Fruit & Spice Park it would be: anticipation. We anxiously anticipate what’s coming over the horizon – the start of Mango and Lychee season, finally! We also have two fantastic events: the Redland International Orchid Festival, on May 17-19, 2019; and the Redland Summer Fruit Festival, on June 22-23, 2019.

It is a busy time at the park, but we must remember to take the time to stop and smell the flowers, or in this case, the leaves!

If you have ever been with me on a tour of the park, you will know that I have, what some think, is a peculiar habit of smelling the leaves of the specimens in the collection.  This is a holdover from my school days, when a professor suggested it would improve my scores in her Plant Identification class.  Our sense of smell is closely related to memory, and I find it useful, you should try it.

Your sense of smell is what you need to bring to be able to experience the wonderful aromas found in the park.  Our first stop is the Caribbean and a whiff of the Bay Rum tree, Pimenta racemosa.  This beautiful medium-sized tree is closely related to Allspice, and the foliage has a potent, spicy smell that when distilled and combined with rum creates, you guessed it, Bay Rum cologne!  Some liken it to grandpa’s Old Spice.  This tree makes an excellent addition to the landscape and can also be trained into a low maintenance hedge.  You can find this tree in several spots in the park, but most notably on either side of our herb garden area.

Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin

Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin

Next, we move on to Asia, where we find Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin. Those of us of a certain age, especially if you were at Woodstock, will know the scent of Patchouli well.  This unmistakable plant is related to mint, oregano, and lavender.  The oil has been used for centuries to repel insects and scent linens.  This shade loving plant can be found tucked under the shadow of a breadfruit tree in our Asian Greenhouse.

Finally, we move on to the Indian subcontinent to find Curry Leaf, Murraya koenigii.  This citrus relative produces an aromatic leaf often used in Indian cuisine.  Fresh leaves are preferred, often fried in oil or “sweated down” like onions to impart the flavor and aroma to the oil.  The leaves are also dried and powdered.  This graceful, medium-sized tree is best grown in full sun but protected from wind. It can be found near our bamboo collection at the edge of the “kampong.”

I hope that this brief trip around some exotic locales will inspire you to keep exploring, you never know what is right under your nose!

While you are here you may also find:

  • Sapodilla, Manilkara zapota
  • Mamey Sapote – Pouteria sapota
  • White Sapote – Casimoroa edulus
  • Gamboge – Garcinia tinctoria
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