En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Monday - October 12, 2009

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Texas wildflowers that have fragrance from Temple TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do you have a list of Texas wildflowers that put out a fragrance?

ANSWER:

The short answer to that question is no. If there is such a list, we couldn't locate it. We found a number of websites on fragrant flowers, but they seemed to run heavily to shrubs and/or non-natives to North America or Texas. Actually, all flowering plants put out a fragrance, sometimes pleasant to human noses, sometimes not. When we were researching your question, we ran across websites where oil of bluebonnet and bluebonnet-fragrance soaps and lotions were sold. We were once given a bar of bluebonnet fragrance soap, and didn't care for the smell, though we love bluebonnets.  Fragrance is in the nose of the smeller. Many plants will have no fragrance discernible by human noses at all, and others no fragrance you want to smell. For instance, Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage), native to North America but not to Texas, gives off an odor of rotten meat, especially when the leaves are bruised. This is to attract flies, the skunk cabbage's pollinator. 

This website, from The Floral Expert Flowers and Fragrances, lists several reasons why flowers smell, sometimes as advertising to pollinators. The fragrance might be something attractive to a bee or butterfly because it smells (to them) like one of their own kind of the opposite sex. They land on the flower looking for love and get pollen on them to distribute to other flowers, also beckoning them. For some flowers, their fragrance is to attract pollinators to a source of nectar. There is speculation that some plants will exude an odor unpalatable to herbivores who might want to have that particular flower for dinner. It is known that deer do not care for aromatic plants, although when deer are really hungry they just hold their noses and eat anyway.

Since we can't find a list for you, we will list a few Texas native wildflowers that we know from personal experience have pleasant fragrances, at least to us. Notice several are members of the mint family. On mints, the fragrance comes from the bruising of the leaves, so this isn't really a flower fragrance.

Palafoxia rosea (rosy palafox) -Asteraceae (aster) family

Monarda punctata (spotted beebalm) - Lamiaceae (mint) family

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox) - Polemoniaceae (phlox) family

Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet) - Violaceae family

Salvia coccinea (blood sage) - Lamiaceae (mint) family

Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage) - Lamiaceae (mint) family


Symplocarpus foetidus

Palafoxia rosea

Monarda punctata

Phlox divaricata

Viola missouriensis

Salvia coccinea

Salvia farinacea

 

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Growing Texas Bluebonnets in Colorado
February 12, 2009 - I bought bluebonnet seeds from your wildflower center last August when visited Austin. Being a Texas native, I want to enjoy bluebonnets here in Colorado. When do I plant my seeds outdoors? In the gro...
view the full question and answer

First spring wildflower to bloom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
December 15, 2008 - In Pittsburgh PA what spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet rosettes in July from Austin
July 30, 2012 - Dear Mr S.P.: Please solve my bluebonnet summer mystery! I established about 1500 sq feet of bluebonnets starting four years ago by scavenging seeds here and there and just scattering in the sprin...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for September wedding from Licking MO
June 02, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am getting married this September in Licking Missouri back in the woods on my dads land. I would like to have wildflowers for the bouquets and reception decor. Can I get some...
view the full question and answer

Drought Tolerant Shrubs and Perennials in San Jose, CA
July 18, 2013 - Hello I am a SLT home owner in San Jose, Ca. and want to plant drought tolerant shrubs and perennials. We don't have irrigation but plan to put a timer on a nozzle and run some lines. At least I am t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center