26 Prairial: Jasmin (jasmine, Jasminum spp.)
Of the many species of jasmine, the bulk are native to South Asia, where several are grown commercially. Fresh flowers are used for ornamentation and in religious ceremonies; the flowers are also harvested for tea and for the oils that go into perfume and incense.
Producing these flowers is fussy work. The shrubs (which don’t reach their full yield until three or four years after planting) need regular pruning to encourage the heaviest flowering. And when the time comes for harvest, jasmine loses its freshness—and value—quickly. Depending on the purpose, blooms may need to be picked as unopened buds; then the harvesters sort them by quality and freshness, store them, and/or package them for travel—carefully. Some chemical treatments can extend the jasmine’s period of freshness to 72 hours or so, but essentially it’s a fragile and ephemeral crop, vulnerable to any kind of rough handling or delays. The market for jasmine is time-sensitive as well, with highs and lows of demand depending on wedding and festival seasons.
Speaking of time-sensitivity, I’ve still got a few hours of 26 Prairial left. This post isn’t late!