plants that smell like weed

If you grow any of these plants in your garden you could be getting a visit from the police

These perfectly innocent plants have got people raided by the police or worse

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  • 20:00, 7 SEP 2017

Earlier this week we reported on a couple whose home had been invaded by drug dealers attracted to the property by a strong smell of cannabis.

The drugs gang thought the couple’s home in the leafy village of Winford, near Bristol Airport, was a cannabis factory and broke down the door to steal the stash – terrifying the couple in the process.

But the thugs were mistaken. There was no cannabis and the source of the skunky aroma was eventually found in a flowering plant in their garden, called Caucasian Crosswort.

The innocent plant had caused a nightmare for the terrorised couple and comments on social media showed that other people had also got into hot water over innocent plants that smell like pot.

So, these are the plants you shouldn’t plant in your garden unless you want to bring the police knocking, or worse.

Phlox subulata

Ivor Wiltshire, 77, and his wife Margaret had a similar experience.

The pong of cannabis around their home in Kingswood attracted not only gang members who threatened their next-door neighbour but also police.

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The couple returned from a holiday in Madera to find the drugs squad had battered down their front door and searched the property.

And the cause of all this trouble? A type of flowering moss, called phlox subulata, which looks nothing like cannabis but gives off a pungent aroma similar to the drug.


A plant that has been used as a culinary herb and medicinally throughout the world for centuries.

Mugwort has many uses, from insect repellent to flavouring food and even beer.

The plant grows around the world and in the Far East, it is used as a medicine.

In medieval Europe it was said to have magical properties. Mugwort could protect from evil spits and wild animals, and remedy fatigue.

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All that aside, one of the less useful properties of Mugwort is that it smells exactly like weed – several people have reported having to answer awkward questions from neighbours after planting it.

Spider flowers

Cleome or Spider flower leaves reportedly look and smell a lot like cannabis.

One social media user said he was actually able to fool his friend’s younger brother with leaves.

“One time, over 10 years ago, I found a cleome plant and was like ‘wow, looks like weed’ and jokingly grabbed a bunch of leaves and pressed them in a book.

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“Later, they were dried up and we found them during class, a friend crumbled them up and put them in a bag, and then eventually sold it to his younger brother. His brother smoked it with his friends and came back for more.”


Police raided a 79-year-old widow’s highland cottage in 2008 after mistaking her tomato plants for a cannabis factory.

Officer’s tore Lulu Matheson’s house apart and ‘arrested’ her Labrador and Jack Russell dogs after they mistook the tomato plants growing on a windowsill for cannabis.

These perfectly innocent plants have got people raided by the police or worse

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Isn’t there a plant in some people’s gardens that smells like marijuana but isn’t? Or is it that several of my neighbors really are smoking weed all the time?

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Catnip (seriously) but the cats eat and roll in it

I’m going to hazard a guess that it IS weed – which smells very strong when the buds are ripening. You don’t have to be smoking it to smell it!

Now that using cannabis is legal for adults, I’d say that yes, what you are smelling is weed. It’s unfortunate that your neighbors are still actually smoking it; there are many other, less noxious ways to administer it. As someone who uses it for a legit medical reason, may I ask that you inquire of your neighbors before concluding that they are simply stoners? Without cannabis I’d be unable to walk. Thanks

You live in Oakland, right? For sure it’s weed. Your neighbors are growing and/or smoking weed.

Plectranthus neochilus (succulent-ish plant with purple flowers) smells pretty skunky – but I think you’re probably actually just smelling weed. I notice it everywhere since it was legalized. I don’t particularly care if people get high or not, but I can’t stand the smell!

Some Euphorbia varieties have a skunk-like smell that could smell like weed. Euphorbia Characias wulfenii is one that I know can be stinky but I imagine there are others. Or maybe your neighbors are smoking weed all the time. I have one that does!

Lantania can but I am not sure if it would be strong enough.

Are you sure it isn’t a skunk? (They don’t call it “skunk weed” for nothing – the two smells are very similar and they are both very strong.) Skunks are nocturnal, so if you are mainly smelling this smell at night, especially in the middle of the night, there’s a good chance it’s your little skunk neighbor, not your pot-smoking neighbor. We have skunks walking through our Berkeley backyard all the time, and if they feel threatened, such as by a barking dog, they will let loose their smell. One of our neighbors found that a skunk was living under their house. They used Critter Control which trapped the skunk and then they sealed up their crawl space so it never came back.

OP here, and the winner is Plectranthus neochilus! It’s noted on Annie’s Annuals website to have a “ganja” scent and sure enough there’s a large patch of it in my neighbor’s yard. When I pulled a leaf off, there was an instant strong skunky smell. Thanks for all of the interesting suggestions!

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