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

2012 wildflower forecast from Friendswood TX
September 29, 2011 - What is your current view of the 2012 Wildflower Forecast? What weeks might be best for someone traveling from Colorado to see our flowers? We are concerned about what the drought will do to the 20...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a bank in PA
April 28, 2012 - I live in Landisburg, PA, (zone 6). I need to find some ground cover for a primarily full sun bank that is roughly 10-12' down over the embankment and up to 100' long. This area wraps around our po...
view the full question and answer

Plants for cleared area by creek
October 10, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants. My front "yard" is about 2 1/2 sloping acres with a wet weather creek at the bottom. It has been recently cleared of cedar. The cedar is now shredded and acts as a cover to he...
view the full question and answer

When and where are the bluebonnets blooming from Canyon TX?
March 18, 2012 - Where can we get reports on when and where the bluebonnets are blooming?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping a Fence with Native Plants for Central Texas
March 08, 2013 - I'm looking to landscape my fence that I've lined with woven bamboo. The area gets the hot afternoon sun in summer and is pretty shady in winter. The plants need to be drought and heat tolerant. I'...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center