Stinking Plants!

pauln(z7B Arkansas)March 12, 2007

It's springtime and everyone is thinking about wonderful smells from nature. So, in honor of springtime, I'm composing a list of the worst smelling plants. Please add or subtract as you see fit.

5. Privet...I know some folks really like this smell, but to me it's sufficating.

4. Mimosa...my friends Chad calls this "Avon Tree".

3. Umbrella Magnolia...wonderful native mountain tree, but really bad smelling flowers.

2. Photinia...worst smelling flowers, glad they aren't too common.

1. Callary Pears (inc. Bradford)...everyone who loves these trees should hang out under one for a while. These are coming up EVERYWHERE and there seems to be no stopping them short of a blight. I admit, they look nice in spring and fall, but they are the worst stinking tree I can imagine. From now on, I'll refer to them as "stinking pears".

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oakleif(z6 AR)

Paul, goodness you are on a rage.LOL I have never been able to get even a slight fragrance from mimosa. So on that one i'm neutral. I don't like wild onions and i love onions.I'm not fond of basil, except holy basil. I,m sure there are other things but can't think of any more.
vickie

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 3:22AM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

I see you are a botonist(SP) here in AR. Do you know Brent Baker? He is too.
vickie

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 3:39AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

I will add the odor of the blooms on the hawthorn by our wellhouse, and the blooms on the Viburnum at the corner of our house. Both are yukky! I call the Viburum the "stink tree" when it blooms!I wish it was in a differant location.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 9:12AM
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kaye(7a AR)

I'll add the ginko tree my husband planted. I did win the argument about where to put it..way away from the house!

I'm one that enjoys the smell of privet in the spring..covers up the chicken house odor when the wind's from the east here.

I hate to hear that about #3..planted one last year.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 10:22AM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

Thanks for the threads! I am a botanist, but haven't met Brent yet. Good additions gang! I've got a few parsley leaf hawthorns on my bony hill, and they can reek to high heaven. Ginkgo fruit is something else! Vickie, you're welcome to hang out under my mimosa around Memorial Day and behold it's scent. The flowers are very exotic, almost otherworldly, but after a while it just becomes too much. Kaye, don't fret, the umbrella magnolia is one of our finest natives, and it's certainly worth having in spite of a stinky flower.

You know, there's many ways to pollinate plants. We're all familiar with the wind pollinated trees of spring which cause everyone to get the sniffles, and coat our cars with limegreen sheen. Most think of sweet flowers that attract bees, wasps, etc and get their genes spread about. But lots of stinking flowers attract flies which do their business thinking perhaps that they are rolling around on something dead. Another good example of this is the stinkhorn mushroom. It looks about as foul as it's smell. Google for it's latin name to get a chuckle.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 3:42PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

If you guys have fresh Ginko seeds/nuts, can you send them to me in trade? They're soooo good in soup!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 2:31AM
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peaceofmind

Cleome (spider flower) gets my vote. It smells just like a skunk. I especially notice it when I'm weeding and have my head down at plant level. My first thought is always that there is a skunk in my yard and it must be rabid since it is out in the daytime. Then I remember it is just the lovely spider flowers across the way and I come down off the roof. ;-)
I'm always surprised when people sing the praises of the scent of autumn clematis, too. And I'm also surprised to see it sold in catalogs and nurseries as a desirable plant. It grows like a weed here.

Of course, I grow both these plants in my yard so the smell isn't that bad. They are both beautiful plants.
Anise

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 9:51AM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

I've never experienced the smell of spider flower. Azaleas sometimes have a skunk smell, but I rather like skunk, it reminds me of good european beer! Boxwoods often smell like cat pee, and this attracts cats to join and add their pee-mail. The flowers, however, are very sweet. Autumn Clematis smells like honey to me, but I can imagine it would become unpleasant after a short period of time. They are very prolific with their winged seeds coming up everywhere.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 10:37AM
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Ginge(Mo.)

I don't know what it is but I call it the fly bush :( grows like a weed evergreen, made the mistake of planting one by the front porch , when it blooms I chop it ... bush 6 me 0 keeps comming back .
Last week everything in the yard smelled like skunk including the dog . Gin

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:37AM
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gldno1

Ginge, could you be thinking of euonymous? I had one at our other place by the bathroom window and in spring when it bloomed, it would absolutely be covered by green flies!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 1:49PM
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Ginge(Mo.)

Sounds like it . wish other things grew like it does .. Thanks .. Gin

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 10:47PM
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moko(z6AR)

The flowers of (Matelea decipiens)Climbing Milkweed is very pretty but the smell is of a stinky armpit,ppp-uuu !. Agave virginica) False aloe, on the other hand is wonderful, can't wait for It's waft in the gardens mid summer.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 8:39PM
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kaye(7a AR)

I just thought of another that many visitors to the garden find a bit offensive. They always want to know what that "pretty fern is" and when I tell them it's Tansy and it was used for an insect repellent in the pioneer days and give them a whif of a crushed plant, most recoil. Actually, I like the scent. I try to grow some plants that make a sensory experience pleasant..some do..some don't...the nose is a variable thing.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 9:41PM
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gldno1

Here is another one: clary sage. Some hate it, I like it, smells like grapefruit to me. Self-seeds like crazy. I believe it is salvia sclarea, variety transylvanica.

Another that I don't like is any of the sages, salvia nemerosa.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 5:00AM
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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

I moved a bunch of stargazer lilies I had growing by the front door because I can't stand the smell.
I have salvia May Night and another that looks almost exactly like it. One smells like cat pee and the other doesn't have any odor but I'm not sure which is which. I'll try to think of the other one's name. I bought a salvia darcyi with red flowers at the Master Gardeners sale last year and it has that same smell only a little stronger I think.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 9:08AM
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mulberryknob

I am convinced that not everyone experiences the same fragrance from the same plant. Our noses, like our taste buds are linked to our genes, and really are "variable". Cleome volunteers all over my garden. I think it smells like lemonaid--and I love the smell of autumn clematis, even though it is a bit of a thug. But if you want to talk stinky plants--I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and during midspring a plant blooms in the bogs and swamps there that is truly beautiful. An arum I think as it has a lovely yellow hood over a "jack." Don't know the scientific name; everybody just called it "Skunk Cabbage" because IT REALLY SMELLS LIKE A SKUNK--and hundreds of them altogether was a powerful experience. But what do you all think the blossoms of elderberry smell like? Tennessee Williams wrote a play (Wish I could remember the name) in which one character insults another by saying "Your mother smells of elderberry blossoms." I didn't know what that meant until I stuck my nose into a huge umbel.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 11:42PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

I love elderberry odor. However, this is from a distance, not up close. To me it has a vanilla/pipe tobacco smell. A friend chimed in on this thread with an emphatic "chinese chestnut" for being the stinkiest plant. I'm not familiar with that one. Mulberry, your quote reminds me of Monty Python's Holy Grail "Your mother was a hampster, and your father smelt of elderberry!"

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 9:27AM
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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

I planted a tiny red elderberry last spring that looked like it was going to die and wouldn't grow for the longest time, then two long shoots shot up to nearly four foot. Now I'm afraid to move it from its temporary spot since it's so big.
It has purplish buds on it right now so it's going to bloom. Can't wait to see what it smells like. lol
I was planning to put a bench close to where I planted it but after reading about the smell, I think I either need to move it or put my bench in a different spot.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 8:14AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Oh! Christie. I have wanted a red elderberry ever since I saw them in Oregon when I went to visit my brother years ago. They were covered with fruit. A lovely sight!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 9:27AM
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gldno1

I have been trying to think of this tree for some time. We had one growing on another farm we lived on..........it had the most disgusting, poison smelling greenish flowers. I kept asking everyone I knew what it was...no one knew.

One day I saw an article about it and knew it was my

Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. You can't kill them. I have since seen them growing out of pavement and sidewalks. It is from China and has naturalized over the US. You don't want one!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 9:57AM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

mulberryknob, when we lived in Mass they had wild plants they called skunk cabbage and it did stink like skunk. Wonder if it was the same thing. It must have been.
vickie

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 1:27AM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

mulberryknob, when we lived in Mass they had wild plants they called skunk cabbage and it did stink like skunk. Wonder if it was the same thing. It must have been.
vickie

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 1:30AM
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mulberryknob

I don't know, vickie, as I've never been to Mass. If it was a huge yellow flower in the arums it may well have been. It was a swamp or bog plant and was native in Washington state where I grew up--and smelled very skunky.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 5:30PM
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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

My elderberry is mush all the way down to the ground. Guess I won't be making any jelly this year. I did get to smell the blooms before the freeze and it wasn't TOO bad. I was reading a post on another forum about how much it spreads/suckers and now wondering if I should try to move it to another spot. It's "dormant" again. lol

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 9:37AM
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