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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - August 04, 2008

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identifcation of fragrant, white camellia-like flower
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My friend describes a beautiful, unusual smelling flower. It was a white camellia-like bloom, but was not a camellia. It was flowering in June or July in the Alabama and Mississippi region. It had an unusual fragrance: sweet, like diluted plumeria, yet it almost smelled burnt. Can you help me name the flower with this unusual fragrance?

ANSWER:

It could well be a cultivated plant and not a native one, in which case, I'm afraid Mr. Smarty Plants isn't likely to know what it is. Here is the best possibility for native plants:

Gordonia lasianthus (loblolly bay)

Also, there are two native camellias:

Stewartia malacodendron (silky camellia)

Stewartia ovata (mountain camellia)

If none of these look like the plant your friend described, please send us photos. Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read the instructions on submitting photos for identification.


Gordonia lasianthus

Stewartia malacodendron

Stewartia ovata

 

 

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