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

Identification of spiny plant in Yucca Mesa, CA
March 02, 2011 - I have a very prickly bush on my property near Yucca Mesa, CA, (high desert). 2 to 3 feet high. Branches mostly starting from the center near ground. Lots of 1 to 2 inch spines on branches. Dormant in...
view the full question and answer

Identity of tree in Grant AL
November 26, 2009 - What is the name of the tree in N.E. Alabama that has a big green heart shaped leaf in Nov. with clusters or nuts & blonde small nuts the size of a pea . And deer are eating the small blonde nut in No...
view the full question and answer

Identification of small plant with lavendar flower
May 07, 2011 - I have something growing in my yard and pasture that for some odd reason is growing all over the place. I never noticed it being this abundant before. I'm not sure if it's listed as a wild flower or...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a tree at David Crockett Cabin Museum in Tennessee
October 22, 2012 - I was in Lawrenceburg TN and stopped by the David Crockett Cabin Museum. There was a tree and it dropped lemon sized balls on the ground. What kind of tree is it?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly Actaea rubra, red baneberry
August 06, 2008 - I came across a plant that has leaves similar to the astillbe shrub, stands about 3 feet high, and instead of a flower spire, has a chunk of bright red berries the size of medium-sized pearls atop its...
view the full question and answer

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