Prostrate Juniper smells like Cat P

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Margot, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I feel stupid asking this question but I've heard enough comments to wonder whether prostrate junipers really do smell like cat urine or if actual cats are spraying them. We have a huge old spreading juniper on a bank right beside the stairs leading to our front door and I often notice that it smells stinky - not exactly welcoming to visitors. The thing is that I never see any cats around the neighbourhood so I'm not sure what to blame.
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    This is Juniperus communis? The Vancouver Trees App - UBC Botanical Garden doesn't say anything about the smell of Juniperus communis, but for J. maritima it says, "The smell of the bruised leaves and cut stems of this species (and the related J. scopulorum) is camphor-like with strong oregano and dirty socks overtones, and many people find the aroma foetid and somewhat unpleasant." It does says that "all juniper tissues are usually pungently aromatic", though not necessarily so in cold wet weather.
     
  3. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I think this is just plain old ordinary Juniperis horizontalis, wildly popular in the 1970s when my house was built.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
  4. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Look at photos of Juniperus sabina 'Tamariscifolia'. Unless you are already sure it matches one of the horizontalis cultivars.
     
  6. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Hello Margot - I do think certain juniper have that easily-noted cat spray odour in the coast garden we have of similar era you cite above

    It’s interesting what certain odours we humans notice —- I think it wa « Michael » who told us a few weeks ago the specific word that refers to the scent of fresh cut hay — can you remind me that term?

    Other scents in garden I have a memory fondness for are
    1. Plain old boxwood - our grandparents had some tall sheared boxwood - smells The same decades later

    2. Lupins! Thé Russell’s — i love that peppery floral scent - again a nostalgic reminder scent

    I wonder if birds have scent and taste or do they focus on color (like the hummingbirds zooming around d even today)
     
  7. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I think that I'm going to be in doubt unless and until I see a cat in the garden. It is mostly fenced but a determined cat could get in.
    From @wcutler: "camphor-like with strong oregano and dirty socks overtones"... (can't quite imagine if that's the same smell as cat urine).
    From the video @Acerholic sent: "European wildcats favor the juniper tree, ..." (but I doubt there'd a European wildcat around).
    From @Ron B: "Look at photos of Juniperus sabina 'Tamariscifolia'" ... (I'm pretty sure mine is just an ordinary old Juniperus horizontalis).
    From @Georgia Strait: "certain juniper have that easily-noted cat spray odour in the coast garden" ... (it is possible they have been cat-sprayed).
    And from me ... there's not a hint of a bad smell from the juniper today. We haven't had rain lately and it's not windy. The mystery continues.

    PS I've been searching the internet trying to find more about this and thought it was kind of funny, in view of Georgia Strait's comments about boxwood, that one website mentions that boxwood flowers smell like cat pee. I guess you could paraphrase 'beauty in the eye of the beholder' to 'fragrance in the nose of the sniffer'? As for me, I still love lilac from my childhood and hate sarcocca.

    Thanks to all for your suggestions.
     

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  8. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Looks like a savin juniper (Juniperus sabina) to me. 'Blue Danube', maybe. In my experience, the savins and the Pfitzer junipers (Juniperus x pfitzeriana—which is J. chinensis x J. sabina) are among the worst offenders for the cat pee smell. Juniperus horizontalis cultivars are considerably less odorous, but around here they generally die before anyone notices a smell. I would amend the comment that "boxwood flowers smell..." to all parts of common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) smell of cat pee.
     
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  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Uh oh and I stated I like boxwood :)

    I don’t really notice it having a strong odor

    The one plant I like fr a distance is Okanagan sagebrush — tho I do find it a bit heady sometimes (too strong)

    Tho as we discussed in a diff thread - I am big fan of the vanilla scent on ponderosa pine bark (esp on hot sunny day)
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Thank you very much @Douglas Justice. It's great to have a definitive answer. It's too big and I'm too old now to take it out so I guess I'll learn to live with it.
     
  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  12. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    What an interesting article! Very well written too. I even learned a new word - sough.
     
  13. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm reading that Fragrance article Daniel mentioned, have just met the word "sough", meaning a rustling sound, with two pronunciations:
    Sough | Definition of Sough by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com)
    or
    sough definition - Bing
    This one gives both: Sough | Definition of Sough at Dictionary.com

    That article does touch on witches' brooms being the source of at least some of the conifer groundcovers - "Often they stink, because something tends to be metabolically or biochemically amiss with them."

    That's a very cool article.
     
  14. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I am Off topic

    Hello Wendy - hope you’ve had a chance to check the aurora webcam - good shows recently

    In addition to « sough »

    Do you recall the word for the scent of freshly cut grass hay crop?

    And the scent for fresh rain on hot soil earth ... I think it’s from Australian university

    Is there a list for these great scrabble words !
     
  15. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    No, and it's not likely I will remember "sough" either. :(
    There are people who can think of smells and experience them. I don't think I can do that.
     
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  16. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    petrichor
     
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  17. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), "rock", or petros (πέτρος), "stone", and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. From Petrichor - Wikipedia, which is a pretty interesting read. The word was only coined in 1964, replacing the term "argillaceous odour", speaking of words I don't know ((of rocks or sediment) consisting of or containing clay). Then there's geosmin, the substance responsible for the odour of earth, same source.
     
  18. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm starting to wonder if my interest in these esoteric subjects lately is the product of latent intellectual curiousity or profound boredom. I think boredom.

    Who else would think this remotely interesting?: "The substance behind the smell of freshly cut grass is coumarine." (So I read when looking up petrichor.)

    Words for particular smells | Speaking in Tongues - Lonely Planet Forum - Thorn Tree

    Where will - and when will - this ever end?
     
  19. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I don't know. This first came up in answer to a query for the name in November 2020. I have several friends who are into words, and am too, except that I can't remember them. And I've just been to a concert and am late to a jam session (both online), am not bored at the moment. :)
     
  20. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    That's very interesting to know. I'm glad I'm not alone in my love of words - and I have to write them down. Here a few lately that I like:

    skeuomorph
    shadenfreude
    myrmecochory
     
  21. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Hopefully not boredom
    I wonder if we have more time to revisit innate curiousity and esp related to our interests (plants / design / gardens / weather in England !)

    We took Latin in school so words have always interested me (Grumio est in culina ... Matella est In horto)

    (I think our Cambridge Latin workbooks had the woman in the kitchen and the man person in the garden ... so I changed it for today’s times :)

    Plus - Margot - you would make some really good Scrabble scores

    Is there an obscure garden word with « x /y/z/w/q .... »
     
  22. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Hère is the 2020 thread about aroma of fresh cut grass

    Thank you the reminder - above in the thread about Juniper scent

    The AROMA of Fresh Cut Grass
     
  23. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    ——
    Interesting Wikipedia -

    In short - it may explain why we don’t usually have the scent at the coast — more likely on the dry side of Cascades and Coast Mtn Ranges

    Thé first time I ever recall that unique scent was as a child in Death Valley CA (furnace creek) circa 1974 when it rained! truly it did — the once in « x » years rain.

    Now of course we have that scent in the Okanagan on a hot day w/ an afternoon thunder shower ... I think it might be the « Russian olive + sage + antelope brush » combo

    ie oily plants ... the same ones that a human-caused ignition fire will roar through because so dry and oily.
     
  24. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Margot, I see you've tried to teach us this word twice before. It would have helped if I'd ever paid attention to Greek mythology and could remember it meaning "ant hora (dance)". I did remember to query it here on the forums, was pretty sure I recognized reading it here.
    (3) British Columbia: - trying to protect boulevard trilliums | UBC Botanical Garden Forums
    (3) how do thyme spread? | UBC Botanical Garden Forums
    My favourite word lately is mondegreen, which I think I learned from the crossword puzzle blog I read.
     
  25. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Great word, 'mondegreen'; it's going on my list. So many funny stories depend on misunderstandings about lyrics - often by children.
    Actually it isn't quite 'myrmecochory' that is on my current list because I've known it for several years. The new word is one I read on these forums lately but I couldn't remember where I saw it until a few minutes ago . . . it's similar: 'myrmecology', the branch of entomology that deals with ants. Don't you just love it when etymology and entomology converge? upload_2021-2-6_15-57-46.png
     
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