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?

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
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

Thursday - November 21, 2013

From: Redding, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of small dome-shaped furry plant, smells like bubblegum
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I always see this plant when I'm on the river trail in Redding CA. and I can't find it anywhere on the internet. The plant is very small, I think it is some type of weeds that grow. It's a light light greenish whitish frost color and it is furry. I love the smell of it--it all most smells like bubble gum. If you could tell me the name of this plant that would awesome,,, Thank you. Oh and also, the plant grows out wide instead of tall and is kinda dome-shaped.

ANSWER:

My best guess is that your plant is Croton setigerus [synonym = Eremocarpus setigerus] (Dove weed or turkey mullein).  It grows as a low mound, wider than it is tall, is gray-green and 'furry' and is described as heavily scented or having "an unpleasantly sweet odor"—some say it smells like 'tutti-fuitti'.  It is considered an agricultural pest by some.  Here are more photos and information from University of California IPM Online, Calflora, Natural History of Orange County and CalPhotos from University of California-Berkeley.

In case this isn't the plant you have seen, here are a couple of other possibilities:

Artemisia tridentata (Big sagebrush) is a native California plant and is certainly gray-green and aromatic, but is a bit larger than your description suggests.  Here are more photos and information from Tree of Life Web.

Verbascum thapsis (Mullein) is a biennial plant and the first year it is only a mound of gray-green 'furry' leaves. The second year it grows a tall stalk of flowers. It is not native and is considered invasive.  I have never noticed a strong scent associated with this plant.  Here is more from Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group's Least Wanted.

If none of the above are your plant and you happen to have a photo or photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of plant in Illinois
August 13, 2007 - I've found a plant that I cannot identify. The plant is is very short, 2 inches tall maybe, and has very fragile, thin leaves and stem. The leaves about 1" long, are pinnate, with about 20 leaflets ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of landscape plants at malls in Waco and Temple
August 20, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty, I am trying to identify a plant used in landscaping for several shopping centers within the Waco-Temple areas. It looks to be large mounding grass, but flowers June-July with shaft...
view the full question and answer

What is gelatinous plant in a Missouri lake
July 25, 2008 - Q what is gel like plant floating in lake looks like a bag filled with green living plant and is see thru and has red. when touched feels like piece of fat but seems to be living in water. Missouri
view the full question and answer

Identification of spiky red berry in Connecticut
September 25, 2011 - I found an odd berry outside of my school, none of the science teachers know what it is though. It kind of looks like a spiked cherry. It has spikes on the outside, a pit on the insde, and has pinkish...
view the full question and answer

How Can I Tell an Invasive Thistle from a Native
May 01, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants, I have some thistles coming up in my yard. I'd like to keep them if they are native, but not if they are invasive or non-native. How can I tell? My yard is a wild area in West Lak...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center