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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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Monday - August 05, 2013

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Cinnamon scented plant growing along Pennsylvania rivers
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I've walked along both the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers around my hometown and I've noticed moments at which time I would smell the strong, sweet aroma of cinnamon. Given the riverside environments, what's the most likely plant life that may be causing the strong smell? Thank you for your time.


Here are some possibilities.  All of these plants grow in Pennsylvania—both the natives and non-natives:

Discorea oppositifolia [synonym: Discorea batatas] (Cinnamon vine, Chinese yam or potato vine) an Asian native that occurs in Pennsylvania.   Here are more photos and information from Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide.

Dodecatheon meadia (Pride-of-ohio) is native to Pennsylvania.   Here is more information from

Hesperis matronalis (Dame's rocket) is a Eurasian native and is considered invasive or a noxious weed in many parts of the US.  It does grow in Pennsylvania.  Here is more information from

 Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub) is native to Pennsylvania.  Here is more information from Plants for a Future.



From the Image Gallery

Eastern shooting star
Dodecatheon meadia

Eastern shooting star
Dodecatheon meadia

Eastern shooting star
Dodecatheon meadia

Eastern sweetshrub
Calycanthus floridus

Eastern sweetshrub
Calycanthus floridus

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