A scientist has solved the mystery of why so many Brit parks smell of semen this time of year.
Many of us have been spending more time in our local parks of late, what with most cinemas, museums and other places of entertainment being closed.
But at this time of year, quite a lot of parks, especially in less built-up areas, have a strange odour that you would be forgiven for thinking smells like semen.
Roy Vickery, a botanist who writes for website Plantlore, has the explanation, MyLondon reports.
He said: “I remember being in the Putney area about 25 years ago when chestnut was in flower and being almost embarrassed by the strong smell of semen everywhere.”
The culprit told MyLondon reporter Charlie Lawrence-Jones that it’s not some lurking pervert – it’s a tree called a Sweet Chestnut.
Known to scientists as Castanea Sativa, the tree is commonly found across south-east England and is better famous for its delicious fruit, chestnuts, than its smell.
The chestnuts are wrapped in a spiky, green casing and have been a traditional part of Christmas dinners for generations.
Their leaves are spear-shaped with a distinct saw-tooth edge.
The thing to really look out for, especially at this time of year, is the long catkins hanging from the branches.
They tend to appear in June and July through to early August. They secrete a heavy, sticky secretion intended to attract insects, and they are the source of the rather familiar yet unfortunate smell.
There’s more technical word for the smell – spermatic – which shows that you weren’t just imagining the smell, it’s actual science.
The oddly fertile odour will sometimes be blamed on other plants – lime trees for example, but that’s a mistake.
Mr Vickery said: “Sweet chestnut flowers smell of semen; lime flowers do not.
“The two species cannot be easily confused, but when they grow close together, as they do sometimes, people can attribute the smell to the wrong tree.”