plant that smells like skunk

If you grow any of these plants in your garden you could be getting a visit from the police

These perfectly innocent plants have got people raided by the police or worse

  • 20:00, 7 SEP 2017

Earlier this week we reported on a couple whose home had been invaded by drug dealers attracted to the property by a strong smell of cannabis.

The drugs gang thought the couple’s home in the leafy village of Winford, near Bristol Airport, was a cannabis factory and broke down the door to steal the stash – terrifying the couple in the process.

But the thugs were mistaken. There was no cannabis and the source of the skunky aroma was eventually found in a flowering plant in their garden, called Caucasian Crosswort.

The innocent plant had caused a nightmare for the terrorised couple and comments on social media showed that other people had also got into hot water over innocent plants that smell like pot.

So, these are the plants you shouldn’t plant in your garden unless you want to bring the police knocking, or worse.

Phlox subulata

Ivor Wiltshire, 77, and his wife Margaret had a similar experience.

The pong of cannabis around their home in Kingswood attracted not only gang members who threatened their next-door neighbour but also police.

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The couple returned from a holiday in Madera to find the drugs squad had battered down their front door and searched the property.

And the cause of all this trouble? A type of flowering moss, called phlox subulata, which looks nothing like cannabis but gives off a pungent aroma similar to the drug.


A plant that has been used as a culinary herb and medicinally throughout the world for centuries.

Mugwort has many uses, from insect repellent to flavouring food and even beer.

The plant grows around the world and in the Far East, it is used as a medicine.

In medieval Europe it was said to have magical properties. Mugwort could protect from evil spits and wild animals, and remedy fatigue.

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All that aside, one of the less useful properties of Mugwort is that it smells exactly like weed – several people have reported having to answer awkward questions from neighbours after planting it.

Spider flowers

Cleome or Spider flower leaves reportedly look and smell a lot like cannabis.

One social media user said he was actually able to fool his friend’s younger brother with leaves.

“One time, over 10 years ago, I found a cleome plant and was like ‘wow, looks like weed’ and jokingly grabbed a bunch of leaves and pressed them in a book.

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“Later, they were dried up and we found them during class, a friend crumbled them up and put them in a bag, and then eventually sold it to his younger brother. His brother smoked it with his friends and came back for more.”


Police raided a 79-year-old widow’s highland cottage in 2008 after mistaking her tomato plants for a cannabis factory.

Officer’s tore Lulu Matheson’s house apart and ‘arrested’ her Labrador and Jack Russell dogs after they mistook the tomato plants growing on a windowsill for cannabis.

These perfectly innocent plants have got people raided by the police or worse

8 of the world’s smelliest plants, from corpse flowers to skunk cabbages

Not all flowers smell as sweet as the proverbial rose. Here are eight foul-smelling plants you won’t want to see blooming in your garden.

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When you step out on to your patio on balmy summer evenings, you should be greeted with the delicious fragrances of honeysuckle, night-scented stocks, chocolate cosmos and other heady garden favourites wafting in the air.

But be careful which flowers you choose to place in your outdoor space – because pongy plants can ruin the party whatever the time of year.

The worst offenders can give off the stink of rotting flesh, dead horses, roadkill skunk and even poo. The problem is, flowers emit smells to attract pollinating insects, but that includes flies which can’t tell a sweet perfume from a rotten egg.

So which smelly plants should you avoid?

Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum)

This stinky candidate is also known as the corpse flower because it smells of rotting flesh thanks to its enormous flower spikes which can heat up to 36 degrees and emit the stench of a dead animal. It grows to three metres in height and its massive crimson flower spans a staggering three metres.

You won’t find it in the average British garden though, as it prefers the rainforests of Sumatra as its natural habitat. You can admire it in the exotic sections of botanical gardens such as the Eden Project in Cornwall and at Kew in West London.

Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)

As its name suggests, this tropical-looking bog plant native to cold, wet, northern climates smells like skunk when it flowers. Often found at the edge of ponds where its roots are saturated, it’s best not to keep it near a seating area, although it does have impressive shiny green exotic-looking wide leaves and lily-type yellow flowers. At first the flower smells slightly sweet – but not for long…

Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis)

These majestic bulbs bear pendulous, bell-shaped flowers in shades of red, yellow and orange in spring and give off a whiffy, musky pong said to discourage deer and squirrels from your garden. So if you want to avoid a bad smell on your patio, go for fragrant spring hyacinths instead.

Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima)

The rich, glossy leaves of this evergreen perennial may look gorgeous, but they have a pungent scent. However, many people grow them because they come into their own in autumn and winter, when they produce purple flowers followed by large pods opening to reveal brilliant orange, sometimes red, seeds. If you’ve gone inside by then, the smell shouldn’t bother you.

Pineapple lily (Eucomis bicolour)

It sounds tasty and sweet, but don’t be fooled by the pineapple lily’s pretty summer flowers – its genus name means ‘lovely haired’ because of the crown-like tuft of bracts topping the flower head. A native of South Africa, it smells like something has died and that’s because the flowers are pollinated almost exclusively by flies, and are particularly attractive to carrion flies due to sulphur compounds in the scent.

Voodoo Lily (Dracunculus vulgaris)

Also known as the stink lily, the snake lily and the black dragon, this awfully pungent bloom, originally found in and around Greece, smells of rotting flesh. The good news is the smell only lasts about a day and the flower is beautiful – a magnificent deep purple-black spathe, or leaf-like bract, that opens in June to reveal a purple-black fleshy spike bearing tiny flowers.

Rafflesia arnoldii

This giant produces the largest individual flower in the world and, boy, does it pong. As with several other foul-smelling blooms, the scent is designed to smell like rotting carrion to attract flies. Despite its unsavoury stench, Rafflesia arnoldii, endemic to the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, is considered one of the three national flowers in Indonesia, where it is a protected species.

Hydnora africana

A native of southern Africa, this fleshy flower is known for having the appearance of female genitalia, but smells of faeces, largely because its pollinator of choice is the dung beetle. The only part of Hydnora africana that ever emerges through the soil surface is the top of the flower, usually once every few years. It is also a parasitic plant that drills into the roots of euphorbias, stealing nutrients away from those plants so it doesn’t have any need for sun.

Not all flowers smell as sweet as the proverbial rose. Here are eight foul-smelling plants you won’t want to see blooming in your garden.