Pluchea from George in SC

This plant is growing in a cutover in Florence county. I assumed this plant was Joe pye weed. This plant has a very pungent odor that is disagreeable. The pictures that I am sending are after below 30 degree F. I noticed at this temperature hoar frost crystals are attracted to the dead stems of this plant from the ground up. This plant in the cutover was the only plant to have this phenomena. All the plants in this cutover of this species had cotton hoar crystals at 29 f. I have attached a picture of my size 12 boot for comparison. Thank you for your help in the ID.

Hi George,

while this plant has obviously been frozen and wilted, I keyed in on your description of the aroma. I believe that it is a camphorweed, Pluchea, which is related to the joe pye weeds. The picture resembles Pluchea purpurascens, but it could also be Pluchea camphorata which would be more common in Florence. The aroma is an ‘acquired taste’. It is usually quite similar to camphor.  Several plants in this habitat can get these frost crystals under these conditions.


Dr. Steven Hill, Botanist, SCNPS

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