I wouldn’t have noticed this tree unless I saw the sign right in front of it. Most signs aren’t very interesting but when they’re in front of plants I stop and read them. This one stated that when in flower, Azara smells like milk chocolate. What?! A chocolate plant? Yum….I immediately stepped into the under story of this suddenly fascinating plant and was surrounded by the warm delightful smell of chocolate. It was 7:30 in the morning on a brisk March day and I was experiencing the unexpected. What a surprise to catch the scent of chocolate coming from a plant instead of from the kitchen. What a strange and sweet species. Azara is named after an eighteenth century Spanish patron of botany, JN Azara. It comprises a genus of 10 species of evergreen shrubs and trees from South America. The azara tree usually grows on the edge of woodlands and near lakesides. The leaves are simple, alternate and glossy and the fragrant flowers are small and petalless with showy stamens. Azara microphylla is one of the hardiest species for our region and was introduced from Argentina to Europe in 1861. It’s a favorite to those with limited space, only growing 3-12′ tall. It’s described as having ‘vanilla’ scented yellow spring flowers. Vanilla or chocolate? Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle of our imagination. Either way, it’s a great addition to the scented garden.