Roses Losing Their Smell

May 7th, 2008 BY Katie Rawls | No Comments

Does a rose be any other name smell as sweet? Not anymore. Mother’s Day this year is a time of flowers. And while these flowers are beautiful to look at, they may not smell as sweet as they once did.

Roses and Other Flowers

There are over a hundred different types of roses. And each color can represent a different message from the giver to the receiver. Their beauty is amazing and their smell has always held the same level of beauty for a different sense.

As of late, scientists have noticed two things in the world of flowers as a whole. The population of pollinators, like honey bees, are dying off. And flowers are not giving off the scent that they used to. That goes for the renowned rose and its smell as well.

Theories of Smell

There are several theories as to why the smell of flowers is decreasing. Pollution is taking the biggest possible blame at this point. Chemicals found in smog are thought to be reacting with the smell of flowers and causing changes to occur.

Research at the University of Virginia has revealed that the scent trails are shortening in flowers. It is thought that before the industrial revolution, the smell of flowers could be picked up by insects half a mile away. But today, that scent trail is almost impossible to find at that distance. Some believe that the smell barely travels 600 feet.

Another theory that has been seen in the flower industry is the lack of smell due to the genetic enhancement of a flower’s appearance. Scientists have thought that perhaps the reason for the lesser smell is due to the energy a flower now uses to grow bigger and better than before. Many are now trying different methods to give these flowers back their smell, or enhance what they already have.

And finally, depression has been recently thought to disrupt a female’s ability to pick up the scent of pleasant smells, like roses.

Theories of Bugs

Pollinators are now being studied under this new decline of bees. Scientists are actually still unsure as to how smell accounts for insects being able to find their pollinator destinations.

But now many believe that the decreasing smell and decrease in the pollinator population are linked. And studies have begun to solve the mystery and save a very important job in nature.

If the smell of a flower, such as a rose, cannot be picked up on as well as it once could, then insects will not find them to pollinate and the cycle can be greatly disrupted from this. Studies have shown that when the bee population declined in a specific area, so did the flowers that required their pollinating assistance.

It All Smells the Same

So this Mother’s Day, when you go to take a whiff of that lovely bouquet and don’t smell much, then remember that there could be a number of reasons why you aren’t smelling the roses this year.

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