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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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


Clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra

Clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra

Clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra

Clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra

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