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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

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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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!

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Wednesday - August 21, 2013

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Fragrance in fragrant plants.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Why are some flowering plants known for fragrance not fragrant or as fragrant? Is it a nutrition deficiency or just the plant?

ANSWER:

It isn’t clear to Mr. Smarty Plants what you are asking. The word fragrance  is a noun, and the word fragrant   is an adjective.

 Fragrance in plants is most often associated with flowers, and it is presumed by some people that the purpose of the fragrance is to attract pollinators. Other parts of some plants are fragrant such as the leaves of herbs eg parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme as well as members of the mint family. The fragrance is due to the production of volatile oils and is characteristic to the particular species.

The production of the volatile oils is part  of the plant’s natural metabolism, and maybe a nutrient deficiency could affect the amount of oil production, and thus the fragrance, similar to the way a deficiency in nitrogen affects the production of chlorophyll, which results in yellow leaves.

Perhaps you could reformulate your question, and give us another chance.

 

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