Thursday, October 25, 2007

Random plant event: Crassula muscosa flowers

I didn't have to work on Thursday, which meant that I had to water plants at home instead. (It's pretty much always one or the other.) While doing so, I kept smelling an odd scent, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, or even if it was coming from inside, until I picked up my Crassula muscosa (also sometimes known as Crassula lycopoidiodes) and saw these tiny little flowers on it:


The smell kind of has to be experienced to be understood; the best description I can come up with is that it's got a heavy perfumey odor -- floral, but kind of oppressively so -- that is cut with an undernote of something kind of animalistic, musky, even a little fecal. My best analogy is: imagine a private bathroom after someone has just used it. Before they came out of the bathroom, they washed their hands and sprayed one of those aerosol air fresheners around. Ideally it's a really old-style air freshener, something from the 80s. The flowers smell like what that room would smell like if you walked in right after this other person has just left.

It's hard to even narrow down exactly whether I think it's an unpleasant smell or not, that description aside. The main thing I think is too much, not yuck.

Were it not for the smell, I would never have noticed it: you can see from the picture how tiny the flowers are relative to the stems, and these are not big stems. See a wider view of the plant for perspective:

EDITED TO ADD: Over time, the smell becomes both less overpowering and less pleasant. It's now a kind of musky, guy-put-on-cologne-six-hours-ago smell. Not really floral at all. (Not especially fecal either.)


Anonymous said...

I also have one of these plants. Mine started smelling. I searched the net to see if I could find more info on it. Yours is the only one I found that explained why and where the smell was coming from. I looked closely at mine and found the pin head sized flowers blooming their little pin head sized butts off. You are pretty much right about the smell. Sorry to read that the smell gets less than pleasant. My daughter would like to add that she thinks the smell, right now, is "rather pleasant" but strong for the tiny flowers. Thanks for the info. It helped.

Anonymous said...

Ditto here. I noticed the smell from a plant I brought in from the cold, tracked it to the plant, and then tried to figure out why that one smelled and the others didn't. It was only when I held my nose and took a really close look that I saw all the tiny blossoms. The scent is somewhat cloying for my taste, and I hope it finishes soon so I can stand to keep it indoors for the winter.

Monado said...

The smell is probably to attract a pollinator such as a small fly or beetle that likes something "a little fecal."

I suspect it will die down within a week or so.

Anonymous said...

I followed the scent in a local greenhouse.... like a moth to a flame! Mine smell delicious!
I'm a beekeeper, and this plant (flowering) smells like honey-harvest time to me! Like beeswax and honey. I bought three!

Anonymous said...

It smells like dried cat pee. It's awful. I spent money on a new area rug, new pet beds, a ton of cleaners before I figured out this plant was stinking up my living room!