bangstrom
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Lemon scented Iowa native?

I lived in Iowa many years ago and remember a native shrub with leaves that smelled strongly of lemon when crushed. Does anyone have a possible ID?

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rainbowgardener
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Lemon Verbena or Lemon Myrtle?

Lemon Myrtle, Backhousia citriodora, is really an Australian tree, but it is grown as a shrub by keeping the top cut off. Not sure if it is frost hardy though.

Lemon Verbena, Aloysia citrodora, is a deciduous perennial shrub that dies to the ground in cold winter country, but comes back from the roots each year.

I like how the species names of both tell you that they are lemon scented!

But neither one is native... the verbena hails from South America.
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applestar
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By native I assume you mean you saw these plants year-round and they die back in the winter but come back in spring?

How big were they? Were they twiggy? Did they die down to the ground in winter and start fresh shoots in spring?

So far, I'm stumped if this is really a woody shrub.
Only plants I can come up with are Monarda citriodora (lemon-scented native mint) and Lemon and Lime Basils. Lemon Balm, too, are hardy plants and can become naturalized. Basils are not hardy perennials but will self seed and grow in the same spot.

I'm thinking there should be some trees that might have lemony scent, that you may have encountered while they were smaller, but I can't think of them right now. Rainbowgardener, does Sourwood have that kind of fragrance?

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applestar
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OK a couple of more candidates-- Could Northern Bay be considered in any way lemony? Also, am thinking some magnolia flowers have lemony fragrance... If they were already shriveled, you may not have thought of them as flowers.

bangstrom
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rainbowgardener wrote:Lemon Verbena or Lemon Myrtle?
I never knew the shrub well enough to recognize it but my Dad would point it out when we were in the woods. As I recall, it was a woody deciduous shrub with glossy lance shaped leaves like the Australian lemon myrtle and the leaves smelled like lemon verbena. The plants I saw were no more than about three feet tall. I have tried to grow verbena but even the roots don't survive a good winter. I saw a TV show about Iowa native plants where a man mentioned a shrub with lemon scented leaves but I didn't catch the name.

bangstrom
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applestar wrote:OK a couple of more candidates-- Could Northern Bay be considered in any way lemony?
I am not familiar with Northern Bay but it was a woody shrub that had to be extremely winter hardy. I never saw it when it had either flowers or fruit.

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What about fragrant sumac? Isn't it supposed to be a citrusy scent to the foliage? Anyone familiar with the scent personally?
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applestar
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Hmm... all I remember is that "Sumac-aid" made from the berries are supposed to taste like lemonade.... Ozark Lady mentioned them before, maybe she would know.... :?:

bangstrom
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Odd Duck wrote:What about fragrant sumac? Isn't it supposed to be a citrusy scent to the foliage? Anyone familiar with the scent personally?
No, it wasn't fragrant sumac with the seedy, lemon flavored berries. We have the fragrant 'three leaf' sumac here in MO and the leaves have a pungent smell but I wouldn't call it either lemony or fragrant.

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Here's a link to fragrant sumac
https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RHAR4
could this be the plant? There are other pics in this link if you need.

I know there are several native sumacs that get to many different sizes and have a fair amount of variety in the foliage as well. Take a look at the pics and see if anything rings a bell. Otherwise, maybe you can keep giving us more description of foliage, size, etc?
Sharon
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bangstrom
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Here's a link to fragrant sumac
https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RHAR4
could this be the plant? There are other pics in this link if you need.
I am familiar with the fragrant sumac ( squaw bush, skunk bush) and they grow in Iowa but I have never found them to have a lemony scent to the leaves. Some say the leaves smell like skunk but I wouldn't call them skunky either. They have an unpleasant spicy smell. Fragrant sumac has red seeds are very lemony and make a nice lemon-aide but this is not the shrub that I remember. It was more like the lemon verbena but extremely cold hardy.

youngg
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Re: Lemon scented Iowa native?

bangstrom wrote:I lived in Iowa many years ago and remember a native shrub with leaves that smelled strongly of lemon when crushed. Does anyone have a possible ID?
I live in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. This past summer I located a similar shrub/tree. I have taken some pictures and I will send them to you if you are still interested. I have asked the local nursier to help me identify it but no luck so far. The shinny green elongatged leaves definately have a strong lemon scent when wrinkled in your hand.

bangstrom
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Re: Lemon scented Iowa native?

I would be interested in seeing the pictures. Your description sounds like the shrub I have been asking about and, unlike lemon verbina, you have a similar climate where it might grow.

youngg
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Re: Lemon scented Iowa native?

bangstrom wrote:I would be interested in seeing the pictures. Your description sounds like the shrub I have been asking about and, unlike lemon verbina, you have a similar climate where it might grow.
It is funny I received your e-mail because I just found out the name of the bush. It is a Spice Bush 'Lindera Benzoin' I don't know how to send you the picture I took but if you go to https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/plant.asp?code=D890 you will find information and pictures. It's a native plant of Missouri and grows east of the Mississippi Zone 4 to 9. The male has yellow flowers and the female has white flowers. Hope this solves the mystery for you. If you know how I could send you my picture just let me know.

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rainbowgardener
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You can post your pictures here; instructions are in NEW TO HELPFUL GARDENER under Helpful Tips and Suggestions for New Members.

But I'm afraid you may be disappointed. I grow spice bush. To me the crushed leaves are pungent and maybe a little spicy, but not in the slightest citrus-y.
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bangstrom
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Re: Lemon scented Iowa native?

Thank you. The pictures I found on-line certainly look like the plant I was looking for. There may be some individual variation but the ones I remember had a definite lemon scent. I have never seen any with fruit, possibly because they were too isolated to be pollinated or it was the wrong time of year, but that looks like the plant.

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rainbowgardener
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Yeah maybe there's different varieties or maybe the conditions it is grown in (like my alkaline clay soil and not much sun) make a difference, but I don't even find the scent of mine very pleasant, like I said more pungent than spicy.
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youngg
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rainbowgardener wrote:You can post your pictures here; instructions are in NEW TO HELPFUL GARDENER under Helpful Tips and Suggestions for New Members.

But I'm afraid you may be disappointed. I grow spice bush. To me the crushed leaves are pungent and maybe a little spicy, but not in the slightest citrus-y.
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That is sure a round about way to get a picture to you and I am not sure that it will help you.
I have been more research and have found that there are at least 4 kinds of Spicebush. ie. Lindera (Melissifolia), (Benzoin), (Subcoriacea) & (Melissifolia)
The one that more closely compares to mine is 'Subcoriacea' Bog Spice Bush. There are pictures of the flowers and stem at the following site. www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/lisu.html. Other sites also make mention of the lemon scent when you crush the leaves especially on new leaves and younger bushes. I still think mine may be a spice bush and several visitors have also commented on the lemon scent.
I also noticed today that some of the leaves are now turning yellow which also has been mentioned under the descriptions.
I'm hoping it will flower next spring and that will also help to verify what it is. I will keep you posted.

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