The smell of rain Posted on July 18, 2011

John Grimshaw (John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary) John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary) has responded to my coinage of Pluviophily as a word for the love of rain with one for the scent of it: ‘petrichor’.

Petrichor combines the greek for stone and the blood of the gods. Two Australians coined it in 1964 in the journal Nature, explaining that the smell derives from oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, then absorbed into clay particles. Rain releases it into the air along with another compound, geosmin. These are what we smell – or at least what Australians do.

We have different plants and different soils. Having looked up geosmin (literally ‘earth smell’). I am more inclined to think it is its associated microbes that give me so much pleasure.
Although the long-range forecast suggests the novelty will soon wear off.

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