The Scent of Childhood

DSC_0071_073 (2)sigThe goal was a photo, maybe more of the American Redstart Warbler. My hike brought me to an area where they were singing and flying from branch to branch. Watching for a few minutes enabled me to choose the location where they perched most often. But, they are more active than an Olympic gymnast in a gold medal round. Though they came close, they never sat more than a moment. Too quick for this “slower than a painted turtle photographer in winter”. Ok, not that slow, but truly, Redstarts are quick. Ask a birder. While sitting, waiting with optimism, a subject that would not move came to mind.

While hiking to the wooded area to photograph the Redstart my eyes caught a glimpse of a true sign of middle spring, a Hoary Puccoon flower. Anchored to earth, this beautiful flowering native plant would comfort my frustrated photographer mind. The longer my wait for the Redstart became the more inviting the Hoary Puccoon became.

Hoary Puccoon is one of my spring favorites. It ranks high on my list of enjoyable childhood memories.. As a boy my knowledge was limited to the scent of its flowers. It is my simple opinion that Hoary Puccoon has the best of all floral scents. Sorry, there is no hyperlink to share its scent with you. I confess I am sorry that I was so focused on getting its picture I did not stop to take in the sweet one of a kind and only in spring fragrance that is exclusive to Hoary Puccoon.

This perennial native blooms in mid-spring. Hoary means old. Like other native plants, it does have grayish hair-like foliage. “Puccoon” is Algonquian, and means a plant that “produces” or yields purple, red, or yellow dye. The Hoary Puccoon resists human cultivation. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have tried for years to propagate this spring beauty by seed. It has been unsuccessful. Viable seed is rare. The fruit of the Puccoon is a white nut-like seed without a plume. Another source indicates a common name for this spring beauty is “Stoneseed”

Its flowers are a rich one of a kind orange-yellow. Hoary Puccoon is visited by spring butterflies and bees, but not for long as it flowers for a short time. The author of the link just used for butterflies and bees stated that Puccoon has little scent. We must be discussing two different flowers! Hoary Puccoon has a world-class scent!

Now you should find your own Hoary Puccoon. Give it the sniff test. If you live in the eastern part of the United States or the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or Ontario, you could find it. Your search should focus on places with prairie, or road ditches where prairie once existed and the land is now used for farming.

You really should make an attempt to sniff the premium fragrance of Hoary Puccoon. How did such an exceptional perfume find its way into the Hoary Puccoon plant? Why is such a fragrance necessary? Any guesses? Read Genesis 1:11.

Don’t wait too long, the blossoms will soon be gone!

Author: davidwellis

Being a grandfather, husband, former public school teacher and Education Specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service provide me with many life perspectives. Being a naturalist with a camera puts me outside. Trusting God and seeking His direction guides my words, and photos. We live in a magnificent world, come and look at it with me through my eyes, lens and words. To God be the glory. Enjoy the Cedar Waxwings being used for the current profile photo!