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?


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
Not Yet Rated

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!




More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
June 16, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants: We conducted an Internet search to find a name for a plant we have that has 2 opposing leaves on stalks, and is starting to grow a purple flower in the middle, near the groun...
view the full question and answer

Differences between Lantana urticoides and Lantana camara
July 13, 2012 - I have found an orange variety of lantana growning in several location in Jefferson County. Is there any way I can tell for sure if it is L. camara or the native L. urticoides?
view the full question and answer

Tentative identification of Ibervillea lindheimeri
June 22, 2007 - I live close to the Center and found a plant in the park near my house I'd like identified. It was a vine with bright red fruit on it. The fruit was about the size of a cherry tomato but was oblong...
view the full question and answer

Fog fruit?
June 29, 2009 - In your native plant database listing for Phyla nodiflora one of the common names seems to be misspelled (fog instead of frog). FYI, if wrong, please let me know.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
February 14, 2013 - Please help identify a flower I saw growing in the woods in central Arkansas last week.It had a light yellow flower growing out of a very flat basal rosette made up of grey-green spade-shaped leaves. ...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center