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

Plant ID of invasive vine from Austin
August 21, 2013 - A friend lives in southwest Austin and has a vine that's coming up all over her yard. I am a Williamson County Master Gardener and have asked all the garden gurus in my group what it is from a photo ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
October 12, 2008 - I found gorgeous berries on a tree or large bush (about 10 feet tall) and clipped a little cluster the size of my hand. There are 6 or more, starting the size of a blueberry in lime green and growing ...
view the full question and answer

May I send a blueberry picture for ID?
May 28, 2010 - May I send a digital photo of plant for confirmation that it is a wild blueberry?
view the full question and answer

Information about Rose Twisted-Stalk
July 03, 2012 - Dear Mr.(?) Smarty Plants- I LOVE your name! I cannot find the plant I'm looking to identify in your collection. I saw it in a wildflower book as: Rose Twisted-Stalk. Sprin...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine from Las Vegas NV
July 11, 2012 - I'm interested in identifying the vine shown by the leaf in this photo: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/zR3R4JSPYcCI4ESczNXWM4h8z33Cq5cyZNqSSYf9hx0?feat=directlink My mother-in-law got one o...
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