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

Wildflowers for a large backyard in Oklahoma
May 27, 2010 - I have a large back yard in full sun. What native flowers should I plant here?
view the full question and answer

Culture of Indian paintbrush
December 16, 2007 - I have never tried to plant the Indian Paintbrush flower before, and I'm not sure what the culture is besides what's on the LBJ Wildflower center website. Are there any tricks for getting a good sh...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 28, 2005 - I am flying a photographer in on April 7, 2005, for a special art project on Bluebonnets. We have 3 days set aside for the shot. Where are THE best places to capture Bluebonnets in the wild?
view the full question and answer

Late Blooming Wildflowers for Round Rock
August 06, 2014 - I thought this would be a previously answered question but found nothing in the data base. My question is: in Central Texas what can be grown for some color or interest in a wildflower area when the w...
view the full question and answer

Does Texas Thistle have any scent from Austin
March 26, 2010 - Does the Texas Thistle have any particular aroma. We are doing a report, and cannot find the answer to this question anywhere. We have also driven all around local Austin, and cannot find any on the...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center