Back on Dec. 1, 2016, I offered you a story about the historical medicinal aspects of sassafras and its role in the early exploration of the New World by Europeans in “The Strange Tale of Sassafras.”
In the arid American West, there resides a genus of bushes, which by Midwestern standards appear hardly alive. The half-dozen members of the genus Ephedra are called jointfirs and look like clusters of skinny sticks, sorta green in the wet season and more brown or gray most of the year.
Longtime readers may recall that five years ago I built a 1 1/2 story trellis which runs 50 feet, the length of our house. It is planted with our native trumpet honeysuckle vines, which have been selected to bloom from mid-spring through late autumn.
This is a story about our love affair with coumarin, a chemical produced by many members of the plant kingdom. The sweet, enticing odor of coumarin sort of resembles that of vanilla, but the flavor is slightly bitter.