Saltmarsh Fleabane, Pluchea Odorata, at Black Point Beach

Last week, coming back from a trip to see the washed up Portuguese Man-O’-Wars at Black Point Beach, I looked around the old field, now becoming saltmarsh, on either side of the causeway between beach and dune, and saw an old friend, poking up out of the grasses…

Late August and early September brings bloom time for one of my favorite plants, Pluchea odorata, the saltmarsh fleabane. There was a big clump of them at the edge of the causeway.

The color of the flowers against the greens of the grasses is striking.

The grasses and fleabane interweave.

In these flats behind the dunes at Black Point Beach, there are areas where winter flooding lingers each year, and here and there, pannes, depressions that develop and hold water, have formed. In the spring the water evaporates, leaving areas of muddy ground. Fleabane loves these areas, and often grows in them in thick stands. This time of year, what was once a pool of water is now a sea of pink.

The boundary between flowers and grass is clearly defined.

Such a textural contrast.

Saltmarsh fleabane carries the name “odorata” for good reason. Other common names include sweetscent, sourbush, and stinkweed, Its smell, particularly when the leaves are crushed, is notable. It’s pungent and distinctive. Different people describe the scent in different ways. There’s a hint of mint, but the odor is elusively difficult to name. You could describe it as feral.

Or even as savagely wild.

3 responses to “Saltmarsh Fleabane, Pluchea Odorata, at Black Point Beach

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