A roving, free-range freak
September 20, 2018 4:21 AM   Subscribe



 
Ugh, that smell. The city where I live (Charlotte, NC) is in the process of removing them from medians and public areas as quickly as they can.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:36 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ugh, that smell.

There was a row of these at my high school. We called them pussy trees.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:02 AM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Tucker Carlson, soon: "It's okay to be white (flowered) and oppose local (bio)diversity."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:14 AM on September 20, 2018


The fact that they smell like bodily fluids is the least of their offenses and that’s saying something. Because ugh, the stench.
posted by lydhre at 5:19 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I ever got close enough to smell them, but growing up in NC they inevitably bloomed too early in spring and then got hit by frost and looked disgustingly brown and fungal until the leaves grew in.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:29 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is out there in Terence McKenna territory. He had a theory that plants manipulated people for the plants' purposes. He was more interested in psychedelics, though.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:14 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


oh my god are these those fucking jizz trees I HATE THEM
posted by poffin boffin at 6:19 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Our local park district has had an Amur Honeysuckle eradication plan for years, with limited success. Now they've moved the Bradford Pear to the top of their invasive plant control list.
posted by zakur at 6:22 AM on September 20, 2018


I think that ginkgo trees are the jizz trees? Or maybe both?
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:26 AM on September 20, 2018


My favorite take by Queen Victoria: Do you smell cum?
posted by Sophie1 at 6:39 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


I don't know about gingko but Bradford pear blossoms do indeed have a headache inducing stench that's sorta like sperm.
posted by emjaybee at 6:41 AM on September 20, 2018


Ginkgo tree fruit smells like dog shit and/or vomit; I don't know about the tree itself. But yeah, callery pear blossoms famously smell like jizz.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:55 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


These wretched foul smelling trees, ugh. I actively avoid any white blooming tree I see in the spring to keep my senses away from the stench. Also, they're fragile, too, and are just an ice storm away from going all to splinters.
posted by Atreides at 7:11 AM on September 20, 2018


Me, before this thread: “Invasive is bad, yes, but how offensive can a fruit tree be?”

Me, now: “Oh.”
posted by greermahoney at 7:14 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


I've gotten a bunch of little - things - ideas - hints - over the last couple of years, about biopower and colonialism and "invasive" (what a term!) species and introduction and crossbreeding and industrial agriculture and and and.
We want trees, but trees without "litter," trees that fit a certain concept of what a "tree" looks like, trees that can tolerate concrete sidewalks and intermittent watering and cold and heat and won't grow too low and won't grow too high and look pretty and have flowers and don't attract bugs and plant easily and are cheap.

Life, uh. Finds a way.

This was very interesting, thanks!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:15 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Well, I'm regretting getting out of bed and signing into metafilter.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:24 AM on September 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's really weird that the first article doesn't mention the smell at all. When Creech was developing these as ornamental trees, did that factor not give anyone second thoughts?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:41 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Life, uh. Finds a way.

I'm from kudzu country, and I fully expect that after humanity is gone, the entire Southeast will become an impenetrable jungle of kudzu, with every other lifeform adapting around it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:44 AM on September 20, 2018 [14 favorites]


At least you get nice jelly from kudzu.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:46 AM on September 20, 2018


Ginko have sex, the males smell like jizz, the females make a fruit that smells like crap.
posted by idiopath at 7:48 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Fairchild and Meyer are fascinating people. Meyer is responsible for the meyer lemon and Fairchild is one of the people responsible for getting the avocado into the United States- both are non-native species. But yeah, they also brought some stuff in that they really shouldn't have.

Funny thing is that I'm not actually really sure what they smell like. People talk about them, but I don't recall the scent of fresh ejaculate wafting on the breeze.
posted by Hactar at 8:12 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


The problems of bradford pears are the problems of so many other trees, including their invasiveness and a bad smell. Trees really do require huge amounts of maintenance in urban/suburban areas which is why they are a good indicator of the overall income of an area.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:17 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I get the rush to make frankentrees back in the day, but why not try and make a pleasant tree to spread? One that doesn't smell bad and has edible fruit. What's the point of even being a "pear" tree if you don't even really make pears!!
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:42 AM on September 20, 2018


English ivy also smells like jizz when it flowers. What is it with invasive plants and jizz?
posted by klanawa at 9:10 AM on September 20, 2018


Well, it _is_ their jizz, why shouldn't it smell like it?
posted by tavella at 9:16 AM on September 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


My college used to have ginkgo trees planted along several buildings. I always felt they were meant to urge you to move as rapidly as possible to classes so you wouldn't have to smell them.

Then, of course, somebody would track them into a building and the reek would permeate every classroom.

Last time I went back, they had all been cut down.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:30 AM on September 20, 2018


What is it with invasive plants and jizz?

They are sowing their oats everywhere!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2018


Ginko have sex, the males smell like jizz

I don't think it's true that male ginkgos smell, or at least I've never smelled any in DC. Male ginkgo trees form pollen cones and the pollen is dispersed by wind. Flowering plants use scent to attract a pollinator; but like corn or an oak tree, there's no need for a ginkgo to attract a pollinator and no reason for the male to have an odor.

Male ginkgos are great urban trees, they thrive in conditions that stress out other species. But the problem with only planting males is that ginkgo's can undergo sex conversion where male trees will develop a female branches.

Since we're on this tangent, I had a biology professor in college who told a story about a call that came into the department secretary from a lady having problems with her ferns. Although he was an embryologist, he volunteered to try to help her. She explained that her ferns had some kind of pest infestation that she couldn't get rid of. She described the problem and he told her that she didn't have an insect problem, the bumps on the undersides of the leaves she saw were the fern's sori, the tissue they use to reproduce. The lady was quiet for a moment, then she said, "not in my house they don't!" and hung up the phone.
posted by peeedro at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2018 [18 favorites]


I didn't see it in TFA, but bradford pears are floppers. Strong breeze ? Tree splits. Heavy snow ? Tree splits. Look at it funny ? Tree splits.

I've got a neighbor that's replanted their bradford pear 3 times.
posted by k5.user at 10:40 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Bradford. Freaking. Pears.

I've had to deal with these on properties in both Indiana and Wisconsin. People LOVE them and it is so hard to get them to cut them down or not plant them in the first place. In my head they are a real parallel to contemporary American politics (or, on reflection, human nature always anywhere) - you can show people charts and graphs and paper after paper and have these thoughtful land-management and conservation conversations with people who seem to, and really should, care...

But then you get "Well, if they are so bad then why does Local-Nursery-X still carry them, huh? You think your so smart with your papers and hoo-ha, but these trees have never given *me* a problem!" And like the article says, because they represent part of American landscapes for anyone growing up in the 60s and 70s, a lot of people feel like they are just such a "good American tree". They really feel like a pleasant reminder of order and home for a lot of people.

And then an older one comes down under heavy snow (WI) or tornado winds (IN) and gets replaced by... another freaking Bradford pear.

There are only a few things I am really a rural vigilante with (in situations I have some but not ultimate control over): Bradford Pears are on my hit list behind giant hogweed and English ivy that has escaped into the wild, but ahead of wild cucumber vines and crown vetch.
posted by Tchad at 10:41 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's true that male ginkgos smell, or at least I've never smelled any in DC.

DDOT manages ginkgo trees pretty aggressively, but it's the fruits that are particularly malodorous, and not the pollen. If your neighbors all agree you can petition for removal of female ginkgo trees (but not males).
posted by fedward at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I had to look them up to see if there are any in the Seattle area. Yep, there were some photos of them blooming in the Capitol Hill area. Also found some local nurseries selling them. (STOP IT YOU IDIOTS!

Now I'm sitting here wondering who would win in a fight between then and that plant that is the spawn of Satan itself, Japanese Knotweed, which I've learned all about since the new house we bought a few years ago had knotweed on the properly before it was built, and it still keeps poking up.
posted by evilangela at 1:07 PM on September 20, 2018


Wait. The Bradford Pear tree doesn’t bear edible fruit??? Why would anyone make such a thing??

(I swear I read the article. Apparently not well, though.)
posted by greermahoney at 5:15 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've got a neighbor that's replanted their bradford pear 3 times.

Dear god, why not start over with a better tree instead of going back to the frail, semen-scented tree over and over?
posted by elsietheeel at 5:19 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


My college used to have ginkgo trees planted along several buildings.

There were two jizz trees right outside of my freshman dorm. (I think they were ginkos, but I don't remember that for sure.) That spring, the whole dorm smelled intensely of semen, due to no fault of our own.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:22 PM on September 20, 2018


What's the point of even being a "pear" tree if you don't even really make pears!!

So, at least in the area where I live which is all I can speak for, the planning calls for not planting trees that fruit as street trees because your sidewalks will be covered in rotting fruit for most of the year. I love the idea of having fruiting trees available for people who want to eat fruit, but the way this works out is that some fruit gets picked off the bottom branches and everything that grows out of reach just falls and rots, or rots and falls. This is even how it works with my own fruit trees, which I didn't plant but I make tons of use of, and it's still not enough. There are fruit trees all around my neighborhood hanging over fences, etc and there's rotting fruit on sidewalks that no one really ends up cleaning up and is a slipping hazard at the very least. So yeah, it's mostly non-fruiting trees or male trees if they're dioecious, and then they just spread pollen everywhere and kill my allergies.
posted by primalux at 8:44 PM on September 20, 2018


Wait. The Bradford Pear tree doesn’t bear edible fruit??? Why would anyone make such a thing??

Why would anyone plant roses? It's an ornamental landscaping tree, it has pretty colors in the spring and fall and provides shade in the summer. It grows reasonably fast, is fine with completely crappy soils, and has a handsome profile (until it self-destructs under the weight of its branches). It is perfect for the suburbs and for lining roads and neighborhoods where the lack of fruit is an advantage, as fruit trees attract animals that eat the fruit. Ever park your car near a mulberry tree? It gets covered in purple bird shit. Crab apples attract a riot of squirrels, raccoons, and possums. For untended fruit trees in urban area, you're just supporting the local rat population.
posted by peeedro at 8:50 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I worked tree service in Charlotte nc and Bradford pears were a constant headache. Besides the stink the huge issue was that all the limbs grew from one point so that single point experienced a huge amount of stress and was very prone to breakage.

You'd often do huge removal jobs where you'd be getting rid of dozens of trees from a ~10 year old HOA development. The builders of these places loved them because they grew quickly and any issues that arose would occur after they sold and made their money.
posted by Ferreous at 8:50 PM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


That spring, the whole dorm smelled intensely of semen, due to no fault of our own.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:22 PM on September 21 [+] [!]


Did you even try?
posted by saysthis at 2:12 AM on September 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: the scent of fresh ejaculate wafting on the breeze
posted by verstegan at 10:08 AM on September 21, 2018


>I had to look them up to see if there are any in the Seattle area.

My first thought- "Are those the semen-smelling trees that bloom in early spring?"

A-yup. These are probably them. Plenty seem to be growing near UW and north Capitol Hill.
posted by cult_url_bias at 4:30 PM on September 22, 2018


Oh my gosh, a childhood mystery solved (really teen, after I became friends with someone who had these in their part of the neighborhood). Well, maybe not a mystery, since it was obvious that some collection of vegetation was causing that jizz smell, but at least I have a name for it now.
posted by rhizome at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2018


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