Sweetscent or Camphorweed?

Beauty (or aroma) is in the eye (or nose) of the beholder.

Sweetscent (Pluchea odorata) also is commonly called saltmarsh fleabane, shrubby camphorweed, stinkweed, and cattle-tongue. This annual or short-lived perennial herbaceous plant grows throughout coastal areas of the U.S., Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. At the Oslo Riverfront Conservation (ORCA), it is most frequently seen growing in moist area around the western-most wetland crossover, as you would expect from a plant with the common name of saltmarsh fleabane.

Its pinkish flowers are held in cymes (flat-topped clusters), and it was flowering profusely at ORCA when we took a group walk there on 5-28-2017 in honor of Memorial Day. Spring and summer are the usual time for flowering.

At first glance, this plant might not appear to be a member of the Asteraceae, the aster or daisy family, with its urn-sharped (urceolate) flowers that lack the petals of traditional daisies. It has only the central daisy disc, which is composed of many, many tiny flowers. This profusion of tiny flowers that open over time in the central disc are very attractive to pollinators especially bees.

In the fall, each pollinated flowers opens outward to expel a seed (an achene) with a bristly parachute (pappus), as shown in this somewhat fuzzy photo from 2013.

Stiff centrall stems give sweetscent an erect growth habit. Its alternate leaves are elliptical, toothed and blanketed with coarse hairs (trichomes).

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