Monday, August 17, 2009

NPR Discovers the Scent of Ponderosa Pine . . .


. . . by following his Oneness to the Grand Canyon.

The online story features a photo of a guy hugging a tree.

Gag.

Arizona Public Radio reporter Daniel Kraker’s bio reads like a parody from The Onion.

Dan . . . heads up KNAU’s Indian Country News Bureau, which won a national UNITY award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association for coverage of diversity issues.
 Of course!
He’s also a National Murrow Award winner in radio documentary for his story on gay Native America for Outright Radio.
 Naturally.
When he’s not exploring the canyons and mesas of the Four Corners . . . Dan can often be found on Flagstaff’s disc golf courses . . . 
Hey guys, let’s all go have a chai tea latte after disc golf!

Meanwhile, commenters on the NPR site take issue with Kraker’s characterization of Ponderosa pine aroma. Terrell Overman says 

The tree that smells like vanilla is not the Ponderosa Pine- it is the Jeffrey Pine. The address below is to a fact sheet on the Jeffrey Pine from the USDA website. Come on NPR! What happened to fact checking? http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_pije.pdf
Cyril Owens adds his two cents:
Sorry but it’s Jeffrey Pines that have the smell of vanilla or butterscotch. They look very similar to a Ponderosa Pine. Jeffrey’s are only found above 5,000 feet. I live at 2,600 feet and have lots of Ponderosa Pines which only smell like plain old pine.
 This is NPR--National Public Radio.

3 comments:

Ben said...

i don't know what your sarcastic commentary on disc golfing or gay native americans has to do with olfactory research, but I can confirm that the Ponderosa Pine - Pinus ponderosa, does in fact have a vanilla/butterscotch smell, especially when warmed by the sun. I have often wondered whether there has been any effort to extract whatever it is in the sap that smells this way... seems like it could be a nice local substitute for expensive vanilla. Ponderosa ice cream?

Anonymous said...

Ponderosa indeed smells like vanilla. I know from personal experience hiking in the mountains of southern California.

--Mark V.

phat-chance said...

I'm in a cabin in the woods at well over 7000' in New Mexico. I can't tell the difference between Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines but at this altitude I'm guessing I'm surrounded by Jeffrey.
I had heard that ponderosas smell like vanilla so the first time a fragrant smell wafted into the cabin I didn't recognize it. I thought someone close by must be wearing perfume but no one is close by. It hit me that this must be the trees. For the last month the fragrance has reoccurred once every few days. Unlike the description the smell seems more complex and I can't really say it's like anything one thing, but it's fantastic. I wish I knew how to make it happen and what causes it.
I know the theory is that it comes from sun-warmed sap but a wave of it just occurred and it's around 2:00 AM and rather cold now. Are there any other theories? Would one of those 'sniffer' machines be able to tell more about what's in the fragrance?
If you have more information, please post here.