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“The odor of crushed twigs defies exact description,” the Audobon guide says. “The scent has been likened not only to lemons and vanilla, but also to violets, pineapples, and apples.” I sympathize with those who have tried to identify the equivalent scents, as I imagine it is a task comparable to trying to identify the shades of whitish-green that appear in the closeup photos of these needles. The brain is so accustomed to interpreting what the eye sees that it’s hard even to know what color I’m looking at. And then to convey the blur behind the few needles that are in focus . . . Well. I’ll have many opportunities to practice.

P. jeffreyi is a native species here in California, though the person it is named for, Scottish naturalist John Jeffrey, brought many of the plants he found here back to Scotland, where I hope they are not invasive.


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