Pluchea camphorata, a Rare Plant in Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky


Rufus M. Reed

Additional Authors:


December – 1960


Pluchea, camphorata, Plants, West Virginia, Kuntucky

The first plants I ever saw of Pluchea camphorata were growing in a small marshy bottom beside a brook on the farm of my father-in- law, in Martin County, Kentucky. There were only a dozen or so of the plants and my father-in-law detested them and called them “polecat weed,” because of the rank, unpleasant odor which the leaves give out when crushed. He also said if his cows should eat them, it would make the milk most unpleasant to the taste. I became much interested in studying these plants, not only because of their spicy odor, but because of their general scarcity throughout Eastern Kentucky. I next found two or three plants growing in a moist place on the bank of Hobbs Creek, in Martin County, and these were in bloom, and I had a chance to study them. They bear numerous heads of flowers, each head about one-half an inch high. The color is a dull pinkish-white, and the flowers are tubular, the involucres bell-shaped, with ovate-lanceolate bracts, which are pubescent and purplish in color. The corollas are mostly five-cleft.