Jeopardy! category: GARDENING (05-12-2014)
$400 clue: Looking for a climber with fragrant flowers? Plant the star type of this shrub
The gist: Not the rice or the Disney princess, but indeed the tea.
Edit: reader Adam points out importantly that the “star jasmine,” at least in the States, often refers to the species Trachelospermum jasminoides, which is not a member of the true jasmine family Jasminum. However, there is a species of true jasmine, Jasminum multiflorum, that’s also known, among a few other names, as the “star jasmine,” and is also an aromatic climber that’s called a shrub by several gardening and botanical sources. In any case, the info in this post refers to flowers of the genus Jasminum.
Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines (hence the “climber” in the clue), and part of the olive family. The plants in the genus vary pretty widely, but tend to have light-coloured flowers (mostly white or yellow), with a a bell-shaped calyx (that’s the technical term for all the sepals of a flower taken together). Native to many tropical regions of the Asia and Africa, jasmine species have been both to Europe and to the hot parts of North America and Australia, where they’ve become invasive species.
As for gardening, jasmines are often planted for their aesthetically pleasing flowers as well as for their distinctly pleasant aroma. That aroma also makes the plant well-suited for tea, usually complimenting a green tea base, and as a flavouring agent and perfume ingredient. The genus also gives its names to the Tunisian revolutions of 1987 and 2011, which saw both the installment and overthrow of Zine El Abidine ben Ali as the country’s president (he’s now avoiding extradition in Saudi Arabia). Various jasmine species are also the national flowers of Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The clue: This one’s certainly a toughie, well indicated by the fact that it stumped this game’s three illustrious contestants. All they’re telling you is that it climbs, it’s fragrant, and it has a “star” type? Unless you know quite specifically about the star jasmine, I don’t see how you could get this one. They didn’t, and neither did I.
In Jeopardy!: “Jasmine” appears in 19 clues in the J!Archive, although one is about Woody Allen’s recent Blue Jasmine, two are about the rice, and seven are only about the aforementioned princess of Agrabah in Aladdin (another two mention both the flower and the princess). Five of the clues mention the plant’s distinct smell, and two (including this one) mention its climbing tendencies. Putting the smell, the Disney, and the climbing together, you get pretty much what Jeopardy! expects you to know about this flower.