Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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.

 
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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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

What is the orange vine that is covering the wildflowers from Llano, TX?
April 10, 2012 - What is the invasive orange vine that is covering the wildflowers on Texas highways?
view the full question and answer

Identification of Sagittaria-like plant with purple flowers
July 21, 2011 - I have collected a wetland plant that I can't seem to identify. Its an emergent plant collected along with a species of sagittaria. Very similar in leaf structure to an sagittaria or alisima, but i...
view the full question and answer

Care for Vauquelinia angustifolia (Chisos Rosewood)
June 08, 2008 - Hello, I have another question for you. A friend has given me a plant called "Chisos Rosewood" which they bought on a whim but decided they couldn't use. It's said to be evergreen. It's about...
view the full question and answer

Mystery forest plant in WV
May 21, 2012 - In the mountains of southern WV I have several acres of shady, moist land. It has never been developed and is COVERED with a low growing fern?ground cover?whatever. It creeps along on very shallow r...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Bidens aristosa (Tickseed sunflower) in Texas
November 20, 2015 - I think the ID of the plant I submitted a description of yesterday is Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.