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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.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Monday - August 13, 2012

From: Hartwell, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of plant that resembles rosemary in Georgia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I am an herbalist, but have been unable to identify this plant and it's driving me nuts since I cannot find any information on it. I live in NE Ga and have a plant that grows here that looks like rosemary it grows wild in very unkempt yards or fields, it also has a smell like rosemary, but with a slightly sweeter smell. It only grows in one stalk (as opposed to a bush like plant), but the leaves are slightly bigger and a lot denser than that of rosemary. I have a friend that lives south of me in Madison Ga who has a farm and has fields of it..we would like to know exactly what it is and if we can use it. Thank you!

ANSWER:

You may have stumped Mr. Smarty Plants because I can't find anything that exactly matches your description.   Here are some suggestions, however:

Eupatorium capillifolium (Dog fennel) has foliage that looks similar to rosemary, but the scent of crushed leaves is described as "rather unpleasant."  Here are photos and more information from Plants of Southern New Jersey and North Carolina State University.

 Conyza canadensis (Canadian horseweed) looks somewhat like rosemary but is not described as smelling like rosemary.  Here are photos and more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (Narrowleaf mountain mint) has foliage that looks like rosemary; however, it doesn't tend to grow as a single stalk.  Its leaves do have a pleasant minty scent.  Here are photos and more information from Illinois Wildflowers and Connecticut Botanical Society.

Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint) with rosemary-like foliage that is mint scented.  Here are photos and more information from Illinois Wildflowers and Plants of Wisconsin.

Hedeoma hispida (Rough false pennyroyal) has foliage that looks somewhat like rosemary and is fragrant.  Here are more photos and information from Plants of Wisconsin and Southeastern Flora.

Hedeoma pulegioides (American false pennyroyal) looks a bit like rosemary, although the plants are are only about a foot tall. They have a strong, pleasant scent.  Here are photos and more information from Illinois Wildflowers and Purdue Horticulture Service.

If none of these is the plant you are seeing, take photos and then visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that accept photos of plants for identification.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Canadian horseweed
Conyza canadensis

Rough false pennyroyal
Hedeoma hispida

Narrowleaf mountain mint
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium

Virginia mountain mint
Pycnanthemum virginianum

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