Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

Saturday - August 27, 2011

From: Aguanga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Origin of sticky, smelly substance on dog in Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I just took my dog out (mid August) in Aguanga, CA (high desert) and, after coming back in, noted that his feet and legs were covered in a very sticky substance that STINKS - there is some kind of plant out there (my property doesn't have anything unnatural on it) that we must have gone through - just wondering what it could have been. I've lived in SoCal all my life, camping, etc., and never come across anything like it. It appears to be water soluble (thank god! He's an Aussie with fairly long hair) but the smell is very noticeable..sort of sweet but not in a good way!

ANSWER:

This sounds like Polanisia dodecandra (Clammyweed); however, the USDA Plants Database distribution map doesn't show this plant growing as far south as Riverside County in California.  That doesn't necessarily mean that the plant doesn't occur there, but it hasn't been reported as growing there.  Here is more information about the plant from:

Illinois Wildflowers

Minnesota Wildflowers

U. S. Forest Service

If you have seen this plant in Riverside County, the Jepson Flora Project would like to know about it.

Other than this plant, I wasn't able to find another native plant that is reported as producing a sticky substance with an odor.

You might contact the Riverside/San Bernadino Chapter of the California Native Plant Society to see if they know any plant that might produce a sticky, smelly substance your dog could have encountered.

 

From the Image Gallery




Redwhisker clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra

Redwhisker clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra


More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID from Villa Hills KY
April 21, 2013 - Hello I have this plant but I don't know what it is. I want to know if it's edible or what it is. I think it's catnip.
view the full question and answer

Identification of a plant that looks like a watermelon.
May 21, 2012 - A wild plant came up in my bed that looked like a watermelon plant. It had small yellow blooms and then marble balls formed with prickly thorns. The balls were in clusters. What kind of plant is i...
view the full question and answer

Help with plant ID
September 01, 2004 - I found this plant alongside the road in a field in North Dallas. The dirt was fairly dry, and image is attached.
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine in Louisiana
July 06, 2011 - I have two vines in my backyard. I've looked at pictures of each and they both keep coming up "virginia creeper." However, both are different. Neither causes an allergic reaction. One has leaflets ...
view the full question and answer

Flat leaf cedar, Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae)
May 23, 2007 - Hello, I am looking for the scientific name for what is commonly called flat leaf cedar. It has defined platelets, wonderful cedar smell, older trees have shaggy bark, in winter some of its sprays tu...
view the full question and answer

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