A Smell Grows in Brooklyn
October 9, 2004 1:08 PM   Subscribe

I live on a block in browstone Brooklyn, NY. For the last few weeks, the air has been, periodically, filled with a somewhat unpleasant onion-y smell. At first I thought this was someone's bad cooking, but I'm wondering if it's a tree of some kind. Does anyone know what this is? (and no, this is not the horrid smell of the ginko tree, whose "fruit", in the fall, smells like darkroom chemicals...)
posted by ParisParamus to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Oh those Brooklyn ginkos. My synaesthesia assigns their stink the color one deposits with a productive cough.

No snark intended, but might it in fact be onions? That's a powerful stink and if there's a restaurant nearby with an iffy vent system, you could get pretty rich food smells carrying for some distance.

If you really think it's plant-based and you're stumped (as everyone here seems to be), you can ask the nice people at the garden, right in your neighborhood, you lucky thing. It's a nice excuse to spend a Sunday checking the place out.
posted by melissa may at 4:01 PM on October 9, 2004

I'm just guessing here, but there are weeds in the same family as the onion. All of them have an oniony smell. I can't determine if any are native to New York though (and it seems like it'd be the wrong season for something to start smelling)
posted by substrate at 4:09 PM on October 9, 2004

It is the season for ramps.
Any chance they are growing about your house smewhere?
posted by oflinkey at 4:24 PM on October 9, 2004

Ok, maybe not the season for ramps. Why did my friend's gransmother always have ramps in the fall?
Nevermind me.
posted by oflinkey at 4:26 PM on October 9, 2004

Does onion-grass (basically the same thing as green onions; you can pull 'em and eat 'em) grow in New York?

If you have onion grass in your yard, it smells like a salad when you cut the grass. Quite a strong oniony smell.

Maybe it's just me, but I think that gingko smells more like fresh, chunky human vomit than anything else. Back in college, there were many of the things about and we'd usually call them pukeberry trees.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:53 PM on October 9, 2004

While Park Slope buildings have secret gardens in the back, I don't think it would be a smell specific to fall. ?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:27 PM on October 9, 2004

I noticed a strange onion-y smell in my girlfriend's house recently. Turned out her grandmother had cut some "sweet onion" plants for decoration (just named that way, don't actually produce onions) because not much else is in bloom right now and they look nice, but unbeknownst to grandma, smell pretty bad. Maybe a neighbor has some in bloom.
posted by robbie01 at 8:43 PM on October 9, 2004

Someone could be bringing home durians. Fresh durians announce their presence with their fragrance, and a lot of people swear they smell like onions.
posted by iconomy at 9:28 AM on October 10, 2004

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