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14 Stinky Plants

Meet a group of pretty plants that add strange—and even repulsive—odors to the garden.

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Photo: Photo by Perennial Resource

Shasta Daisy

Old-fashioned daisies are a must-have plant in cottage gardens and make a great addition to bouquets, at least as far as looks go. Not all, but some daisies bring a stink to the garden and bouquets that resembles either cat urine, toe jam or cow manure, depending on whose nose is sniffing. This makes sense, since flies visit the blossoms to help with pollination. Not all varieties are malodorous. Buy daisies in flower so you can test drive the scent.

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Photo: Photo courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company


Heat and drought tolerant, lantana provides steady summer long color in areas with even the most sizzling summers. The flowers shift colors as they age and beckon butterflies by the dozens. Sandpapery leaves conceal a somewhat pungent surprise. Brush against or break lantana leaves, and you’ll encounter an odor that’s somewhere between cat urine, gasoline and fermented citrus.

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Photo: Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Flowering Pear

Spring brings a burst of color when flowering pears (Pyrus calleryana) break bud. These trees are urban favorites, and the fruit beckons wildlife. While the white blossoms are beautiful, they release a less-than-pleasant fragrance. Some say it smells like cat urine or fish that’s been left at room temperature too long. Chemically, the culprit for the foul smell is butyric acid, a compound found in vomit.

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Photo: Photo courtesy of Longfield Gardens

Crown Imperial

A stunning late spring bloomer, crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) is famous not only for its unusual look, but also for its unmistakable aroma. The scent typically earns descriptors like foxy, sweaty or sulfurous and permeates every part of this plant. Even the bulbs reek. The culprit behind the stench is a sulfurous terpene, which is likely present to repel hungry critters.

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