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RogueRose
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Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Is there a tree that when it flowers it kind of smells like cat pee? I noticed one day when I was driving I smelled a strong scent of cat pee. I started to freak out thinking maybe something I had in my car smelled like it and maybe my cats, which are normally super well behaved and never ever pee on anything, might have peed on something. But when I sniffed everything (which wasn't much) it wasn't anything in the car. And after I passed this spot it was gone. I noticed it was in this other spot too, which I pass more frequently, and I smelled it every time I passed there for about 2 weeks. The only tree that I noticed that was in flower was one with sort of weeping purple flowers. But I didn't look too closely.

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Cola82
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Well, cat pee gets its smell from high concentrations of ammonia--I wash my clothes with ammonia and it smells like pure cat pee. ETA: the smell washes out--it's the only thing that gets the funk out of our towels.

A brief google search confirmed that commercial ammonia production relies on plants, but didn't name any specific species, but I did find this when I specifically looked for "plants that smell like cat pee."

https://www.ehow.com/list_7481805_plants ... urine.html

cynthia_h
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

I don't know if it grows in New Jersey, but yet another characteristic (besides going up like a torch and throwing embers as far as half a mile during a fire) of eucalyptus I detest is its odor when wet. :x

You have described it very accurately.

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applestar
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

I've thought that sometimes basil, cilantro, and tomato foliage gives off odor that *reminds me* of cat pee. They don't really, but somehow, the first whiff initialy scrambles my brains and triggers the MEMORY of cat pee odor. Subsequent sniffs don't detect anything like that at all. :?
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watermelonpunch
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

There's a place on the highway going west across & out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, (Rte 309) that for YEARS at a certain time of year (probably right around now! but definitely a good part of the early summer), driving on the highway in that particular area, for about a month it would smell to me like cat pee!!!

I moved north of there almost a decade ago, but every time I drive in that stretch of highway for some reason at a particular time of year, I smell it again.

Though I should specify that there's a difference between male cat pee and female cat pee. Female cat pee in my experience has an ammonia component that seems to be more pronounced. Male cat pee has an additional kind of chemically smell that I guess maybe is musky? It's a distinct kind of smell with a bit of a bite, and definitely overshadows the ammonia component.
(In fact, in my experience with cats & catboxes over the years with various mixes of genders with up to 3 cats at one point when my husband & I first got together... the least smelly catbox is one that 1 male & 1 female are both peeing in. That seems crazy, but I swear it's what I noticed. That 1 male & 1 female is less stinky than one male or one female. Mind you ALL of the cats I've ever lived with have all been fixed. And IMHO, un-fixed (or late-fixed) male pee is by far the most pungent.)

The smell on the highway was distinctly MALE cat pee, not an ammonia heavy scent.

OTOH, the smell on the highway, I would describe as distinctly pungent, but vaguely male cat pee.

If you keep sniffing, you would think "no this is not pee, this is a plant smell"... but still think it stinks. I mean even after I decide "yeah that's the plant smell, it's not cat pee", I still have thought "but boy that really smells bad, and just keeps reminding me of cat pee".

At some point years ago someone actually told me what plant puts off that smell. And now I can't remember!!!
Interestingly, they didn't think it smelled like cat pee. They just thought it smelled bad.

It could be some kind of tree, but for some reason I'm thinking it's some kind of weedy bush.

And it's not necessarily a highway "roadside" weed, because the area I remember the smell so distinctly was a raised highway mostly through that area. So the smell maybe was coming from below.

And at the times I'd smell it, I do NOT remember seeing any type of flowers nearby anywhere in the vicinity.
I remember looking often around there to see if there was some offensive flowers it could be.
I have heard of flowers that smell like rotting corpse flesh, so I figured there could be a flower that smells like cat pee. ha ha

But honestly, I think green foliage scents are sometimes stronger than a lot of flower scents when it comes to traveling farther in a breeze.

For example, the dame's rocket I recently found in my yard had a very strong fragrance. Yet, I've seen big clumps of it roadside on some areas along the winding country roads I drive on my commute... and I've yet to smell it at all from my car, despite trying!!

I also think the cat pee smell is coming from green foliage because the smell would be there for several weeks - possibly over 2 months straight. And how many perennial flowering plants bloom for that long in the wild?? From what I've read most perennials don't bloom for longer than a few weeks. ?? :?:
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purpleinopp
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Sounds like a stinky Wisteria. Some smell bad, some good. Cat pee would work for me to describe the unpleasant one.

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RogueRose
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

It'd definitely be a male cat pee that I smelled as my cats are all males! This tree that I saw flowering in this one area did look like a wisteria, but it could have been something else as I didn't pull over and sniff around - just drove slower and kind of looked around. There's a gas station right there. I should have pulled in and gotten gas some time and asked the attendants. It is such a STRONG smell and you smell it for about 100yards of space - so it can't be like, a colony of cats peeing. And I smelled it in 2 different places....I think maybe 3. But mostly this place because it is between home and where I keep my horses. So strange!

purpleinopp
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Does privet grow that far north?

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!potatoes!
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

dunno about cat pee, but the ailanthus is blooming here now, and that always smells pretty vile to me.

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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Boxwood grows that far north.
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watermelonpunch
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

RE: Wisteria

Is that a tree or a vine?
I ask because I believe a neighbor down the street has wisteria growing up & over a garden archway in front of their house. Certainly looks vine-like. Though a bit gnarly & woody.

I've definitely walked & driven past it last year when it was blooming and I can't recall any specific scent... That's not to say there wasn't a scent, just not one I remember assigning to the blooms on that vine.
I do not necessarily remember smelling cat pee near there either.
But now I'm going to keep an eye on when they're blooming and go sniff. LOL

I did find this in searching:
https://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load ... 28511.html
"they stunk up the whole house"

The part where she mentions it's a wisteria that blooms twice a year would make sense of why that smell could last 2 months... could be that it blooms twice, keeping the smell around for that long?

The thing is, if someone is not familiar with smelling male cat pee... like hasn't smelled it in a litter box for example, concentrated -- I guarantee they would not think the stuff I smell on the highway smelled like cat pee.
I say this because over the years, the people who agreed with me about it smelling like cat pee, were always people who either had male cats or had family or friends with male cats - particularly with cat boxes they've smelled at some point.
LOTS of other people I have known and mentioned it to, have said, "Well it smells bad but it doesn't smell like urine to me". And that's the rub. Male cat pee doesn't just smell like generic urine smell. It has something extra about the smell. And it's that extra part that the plant smell reminds me of.

Someone in that wisteria smell page thread I linked to above says something about "musky".
I'm assuming that extra something in male cat pee is the musky marking scent used for territorial reasons. You wouldn't necessarily get that in urine from animals that do not use pee for that purpose.

I'm afraid it won't necessarily help to ask the people working at a gas station nearby the smell, as it's pretty much a given if you spend a lot of time around a smell, you just don't smell it anymore, or you just don't notice it like other people would. One might also assume that working near gas pumps, they probably just smell the gas a lot to the exclusion of anything else nearby. :/
That said, there may be someone there who knows about the plants growing nearby.
I would skip mentioning the cat pee part though, as cat pee might tend to be a conversation stopper. LOL
Though if you suspect the gas station people might be hunters... mentioning you think it smells a bit like animal pee might be helpful. (Hunters (particularly archery hunters I think) sometimes use urine :shock: as a kind of cologne :| to mask their human scent.)

And yeah, the stuff on the highway... I'd thought about that with the colony of cats peeing. But decided the smell distance/area & potency, and being able to smell it in the wind going 55mph on the highway, would have to mean that about 500+ cats were peeing in a concentrated but somewhat aerated area. LOL The only other possibility would be that an entire township worth of cat owners were dumping dirty litter boxes somewhere near the highway.
Seemed very unlikely... at least I hope so! :shock:
Otherwise very frightening that the township was allowing either of those scenarios to continue unabated year after year for 20 years now. :roll: :wink:

And speaking of authorities allowing it to continue...
In my internet search just now for plants that smell like cat pee, I turned up on a cannabis growing tips forum. LOL
I'm assuming this is NOT a plant that would be responsible for the smell I've smelled on the highway in a residential area, as the amount of cannabis necessary to create that amount of smell would surely have been found out by law enforcement sometime in the past 20 years.

I also found a reference in my web search to something called "Menispermum canadense L." and referred to as "pisswort". LOL
But that was on a UK forum (non plant related forum).
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watermelonpunch
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Maybe I'm amused easily, but I found this:
https://www.ehow.com/list_7481805_plants ... urine.html
Landscaping your yard is an effective way to improve your home's curb appeal and provide a backdrop for family gatherings. The last thing you want while entertaining is to have the smell of cat urine wafting in the air.
It goes on to describe 3 bushes that might smell like cat pee, including ones that people have mentioned in this thread.
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imafan26
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

I always thought asparagus smelled like pee.

I know that some female trees when they are in flower can give off strong odors. It is usually to attract pollinators. It may be a tree that is in flower that is giving off that smell. Sometimes it will be stronger during certain periods of the day.
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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

I agree with Basil. I was making large batches of basil pesto and was asked if the cat peed some where. (She's never done that...)

I also think that cypress trees, Leyland Cypress specifically, smells like cat pee.
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catgrass
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

I think that Salvia, when cut, smells like cat pee. And I definitely agree with Eucalyptus smelling like it, too.
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purpleinopp
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Re: Weird Question.....Tree Identification

Wisteria and Ailanthus were what I was going to suggest also. Bradford pear trees can really waft a horrible stink. I'm not good at attaching descriptive words to smells, but without a doubt, those trees stink in some unpleasant way. Paulownia could be the culprit. Some report a honeysuckle scent, some report unpleasantness.

Determining when these bloom in your area to see which coincide with when you detected the odor would be a good way to investigate although flowers don't have to be big enough to be noticeable to waft an odor, good or bad.

Eucalyptus, not hardy in NJ. Hopefully Privet isn't, but not sure. Hideously stinky stuff. The whole world stinks for a few weeks here when that stuff blooms, no escaping it anywhere outside.



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