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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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Friday - September 07, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of plant that smells like passion fruits at Westcave
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Green greetings! I saw a plant in the canyon at Westcave Preserve last weekend. They are small bushes with elliptic leaves. They are impressive because the leaves smell like passion fruits. Do you have any idea about it? Thank you and keep up the great work.

ANSWER:

My best guess is that you are talking about one of the Croton species.  All species of Croton have fragrant foliage and I suppose they could be described as smelling like passionfruits.   Because I've worked with the team that has done several plant surveys at Westcave Preserve, I know that there are three species of Croton there:

Croton fruticulosus (Bush croton).  Here are more photos from the Archive of Central Texas Plants from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas and from Flora of Dolan Falls Preserve in Val Verde County, Texas.

Croton monanthogynus (Prairie tea).  Here are more photos in the Archive of Central Texas Plants from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas and from Flora of Dolan Falls Preserve in Val Verde County, Texas.

Croton texensis (Texas croton).  Here are more photos in Eastern Colorado Wildflowers and from Kansas Wildflowers & Grasses.

If you have a photo of it, you can compare it to the photos from the different species to decide which one you have seen.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bush croton
Croton fruticulosus

Bush croton
Croton fruticulosus

Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Texas croton
Croton texensis

Texas croton
Croton texensis

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