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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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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Saturday - September 27, 2008

From: Milford, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Ferns
Title: Ferns that smell like cucumber
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are there ferns that smell like cucumber?

ANSWER:

We could locate no ferns that smell like cucumber, but we bet we know what you are talking about. Sanguisorba minor, Salad Burnet, (Floridata) is an herb native to Europe, Africa and Asia, but brought to North America by the Pilgrims. Obviously not a native to North America, and therefore out of our usual expertise, but if you will look at this page of pictures of Salad Burnet and then at the pictures of native Adiantum capillus-veneris (common maidenhair) below, we think you'll see how they could be confused. Maidenhair fern is a native of Texas and several other states, not including Pennsylvania. We're guessing if you have seen this herb in gardens in your area, you mistook it for a fern. It does have a lovely cucumber fragrance and is often used in salads to add a cucumber "presence" without having to slice a cucumber.

 

From the Image Gallery


Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

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