Characteristic soil smell?

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Wed Sep 27 14:58:46 EST 2000


In article <8qpidi$30l$1 at zipperii.zip.com.au>,
  korman at zipworld.com.au (Kate Orman) wrote:
> I hope you'll forgive this intrusion - I'm a science fiction writer and a
> former microbiology student, racking my brains to remember something one
> of my lecturers once said! Apparently there's a particular soil microbe
> which gives soil its characteristic smell. I'd like to mention it in a
> story I'm writing, but I can't remember the organism's name for the life
> of me, and my research hasn't turned it up. I'd be most grateful for any
> help!
>
> Cheers,
>
> --
Good luck, Kate. According to Dr. David Perry, a single cubic foot of
soil contains some 15,000 such microbes. I am unaware of a single-smell
any particular organism may exude (except potassium cyanide seems to be
common: burnt almonds).

However, many soil fungi _do_ have rather distinctive smells, which are
often clues to their fruiting about this time of year. Ones that I find
particularly identifiable are matsutake (Tricholoma magnilevare);
chanterelles (Cantharellus formosus) and Hydnellum peckii (Peck's
Hydnum), and truffles (Tuber, Leucangium, Picoa, Hydnotrya sps). Several
fungi also have strong, floral scents, similar to hyacinths or cinnamon.

Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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