Why Do Flowers Smell Good?
The simple answer might be, “Because they have to.” If flowers didn’t have a great aroma they wouldn’t be such a crucial part of the circle of life. Flowers have their great smell because this is what attracts insects and hummingbirds. When small flying animals such as this visit flowers they capture pollen or pick up seeds then carry them to other locations.
Plants may spread their kind when the wind carries pollen to distance locations but most flowering plants rely on insects and birds to accomplish this task. In fact, the wonderful aroma of flowers in spring and early summer is a signal to animals that the plants are ready for pollination.
This smell plays a different part in the cycle than aroma that comes from the leaf or the stem when they are broken or crushed. This odor is usually not as pleasant, so it can actually repel insects and birds. In some cases the chemicals in the main part of the plant or in the leaves is toxic to animals. The difference between the task of flowers and the task of leaves and stems is fascinating.
We like the Smell
Now that you have a basic understanding of why flowers have a pleasant aroma you can tell your friends that these wonderful smells don’t exist for human beings. Sure, we may have created a myth around the wonderful smells of springtime but the truth is this is a very important part of the natural cycle.
Not every plant has all the right ingredients for producing fertile seeds. That’s where pollination comes in. If insects and birds didn’t transfer pollen from one plant to another the seeds of other plants wouldn’t become fertile. An infertile seed could fall to the ground and never produce another flowering plant. But if that seed is fertile it can fall and begin to grow. It may be carried to another location by a bird, where it will start another colony of similar flowering plants.
If you hear someone talk about a “pollinator” in nature, he or she is referring to insects, birds and other animals that come into contact with flowers on plants then carry the pollen along. The pollen comes into contact with other plants to produce seeds. Seeds are distributed by various means so that flowering plants of the same type will grow in abundance.
We might call the wonderful smell of flowers their fragrance. We have also taken these great aromas to another level – perfume. Capturing the great aromas of plants in nature allows companies to produce personal-care products that have one purpose – making us smell good. We smell like flowers!!
So, the next time you see a bee or a bird hanging around the flowers on a plant, say thank you to the animals that were attracted to the flower by its aroma. They are carrying on a wonderful tradition.