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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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Sunday - June 30, 2013

From: Bodega Bay, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of plant that smells like dill in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Whenever I drive over the Sonoma County, CA coastal range and to the beach (usually Bodega) as you get closer to the ocean the air is scented not just with the wonderful smell of the sea, but also of something that smells kind of like dill, but not exactly. It immediately takes me back to when I was a kid, going to the coast with my folks. Would love to know what it is, possibly a native plant? and if it might grow in my home (Sacramento, CA) garden so I can smell that delightful scent ANY time!


Well, your request is a real challenge! I have to tell you that identifying plants by description alone is a difficult task.  Identifying them by smell alone is nearly impossibile—especially since I live in Texas and you are in California where your plant community is very different from mine in Texas.  Someone here in Central Texas could ask me about a plant that smells like grape koolaid and I could guess they are talking about the blossoms of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), but I will readily admit that I don't have a clue about your plant.  However, I can make several suggestions to help you find out what your plant is:

  • Someone in the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, the chapter for Sonoma County, might be able to tell you what your plant is.  You could contact one of their officers or even go to one of their meetings to see if someone could help you.  Be sure to check their links under "Native Plant Resources–Further Resources" for other possible resources that could help. 
  • Checking with a nursery that specializes in native plants in the area might be helpful.  You can search for nurseries that specialize in native plants in your area in our National Suppliers Directory.
  • The Fragrant Garden – fragrance of California native plants, from Las Pilitias Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarita lists several possibilities for you to pursue.

Best of luck with your quest to find your plant's identity!




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