Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
A pleasant, spicy scent hangs in the air of the Palm House this time of year and its origin is not immediately obvious.
Only when accidentally brushed does the culprit reveal itself.
It is iboza (Tetradenia riparia), a shrub native to much of eastern Africa, from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to Ethiopia.
In winter, it is covered in spikes of tiny white flowers and, when a mass of them are spotted from a distance, they can look like a fine mist—in fact, one of its common names is misty plume-bush.
Iboza is the Zulu name for this plant and, apparently, it refers to its aromatic properties.