Smell of recently Cut Grass

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Have you ever been strolling along beside a freshly mowed lawn, golf course or baseball field, soaking up that invigorating smell from the ground at your feet? The smell of freshly cut grass is one of life’s most unusual pleasures. In fact, it almost makes it worth mowing the grass every week… almost.
But, it’s very rare to smell something when it’s cut; for example, we don’t smell anything when we cut our nails or when we trim the branches of a tree. However, mow the lawn in the morning and the air may smell of grass for hours. It’s a distinctive smell, impossible to call it anything other than the “freshly cut grass” aroma. Why does grass give out this smell, while chopping a tree branch doesn’t?
The ‘freshly cut grass’ smell isn’t from a single chemical. Grasses release a host of different volatile chemicals when they are cut, called Green Leaf Volatiles (GLV). Some of these chemicals are acetone, formaldehyde and methanol, which constitute almost 60% of emissions when grass is cut.
In grasses, the aldehyde “Cis-3-hexenal” contributes significantly to the grassy smell. Other molecules include different hexanols and hexanals, with different chemical attachments slightly altering the smell.As with all things in nature, cis-3-hexenal and molecules similar to it turn up in myriad places. It is what gives strawberries the sweet smell that we know so well, and a similar compound is what gives the lush taste to apple juice. These chemicals are also found in olives, spices, and certain types of alcohol. Some companies add it as an artificial flavoring in food products to create a rich and earthy flavor.

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