Meet Camphorweed, Pluchea camphorata, one of the more odiferous plants out there these days. This robust little late summer wildflower is blooming around some of the Domain’s reservoirs these days. Crush a leaf, and take a whiff. It smells like … just like Vick’s VapoRub! A close look will reveal glandular hairs that dot its stem and leaf surfaces. Each hair is loaded with volatile chemicals that smell very much like camphor, which is the active ingredient in Vick’s VapoRub. Although I was not able to find a documented medicinal use for Pluchea, it would surely clear your sinuses. Pluchea is in the Aster family, many of whose members, like sunflowers, have both ray and disk florets in their inflorescences. Pluchea’s rose pink inflorescences, though, contain only disk flowers, a characteristic that it shares with Joe-Pye weed, Ironweed, the thoroughworts, and others. Look for it — or maybe smell it out — in wet meadows, roadside ditches, any place where water tends to stand.
No sweet-smelling bouquet this!