Pluchea camphorata (L.) DC.

Camphorweed, Stinkweed

Pluchea camphorata plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stem - To 1+ m high, erect, densely pubescent, especially toward tip.


Leaves - Alternate, simple, short petiolate to sessile, not clasping, lanceolate, ovate, or elliptic, tapered as base, margins usually toothed or scalloped, surfaces with sessile glands, abaxial surface pubescent.


Inflorescence - Dense clusters at branch tips, flat-topped or rounded in profile.


Involucre - 4-6 mm long, the outer bracts triangular-ovate, angled to tapered at the tip, often pinkish- or purplish-tinged, at least toward the tip, the outer surface with sessile, spherical glands and often also minute hairs.


Flowering heads - Heads discoid, 5-9 mm in diameter. Corollas 3-6 mm long, pink to pinkish purple. Inner florets few, usually functionally staminate. Outer florets more numerous, pistillate. Pappus in a ring of capillary bristles 3-5 mm long, white or pinkish-tinged.

Pluchea_camphorata_headsFlowering heads.

Pluchea_camphorata_heads2Flowering heads.

Flowering - August - October.

Habitat - Pastures, bogs, woodlands, ditches, swamps, floodplains, disturbed sites.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This interesting and distinctive species is found mostly in the southern quarter of the state, and in fact lies near the northwestern extent of its natural range there. It is easy to recognize by the strong odor emitted by crushed foliage. Some have described the aroma as akin to camphor, and in fact the specific epithet camphorata means "camphor-scented." To me, however, the odor is musky or fetid and does not in the slightest degree resemble that of camphor. A single plant in my press was sufficient to imbue the entire room with this disagreeable stench, which persisted for some time.

The genus Pluchea is named for French botanist Noel Antoine Pluche (1688-1761). The plant has also been placed in the genus Erigeron.

Photographs taken off Moores Mill Rd., Auburn, AL., 8-26-04 (DETenaglia); also at Otter Slough Conservation Area, Stoddard County, MO, 8-19-2013 (SRTurner).