Smell The Bay

The human nose is one of the most underestimated organs we have. Activate your Smelling Superpowers and appreciate the complex messages carried by the Bay’s breezes. Our Smell the Bay Adventure will guide you through a little bit of this and a little bit of Scat.

Local Super-Sensory Fauna:

A stinky flower? That’s right! Getting up close with the Fetid Adder’s Tongue, or slinkpod, may make you recoil in disgust. Its odor reminds many of rancid meat, which fungal gnats don’t seem to mind.


Explore the marshes of the Bay and draw in a variety of fragrant native species. Take in the unique smells of Mugwort, California Sagebrush and California Wild Rose. You can even create scent station at home and have your family choose their favorites.

California Sagebrush ( Artemisia californica ) is a bushy plant that is found in the high zone of the marsh. The plant’s fine needle-like leaves have a unique smell when crushed or rubbed. This plant is sometimes referred to as “cowboy cologne” due to its fragrant foliage. Many people associate California Sagebrush with the quintessential smell of California.

Mugwort ( Artemisia douglasiana ) is a perennial which prefers the partial shade and moisture near creek beds. The leaves of this plant have a unique smell when rubbed. You can find Mugwort in the upland areas of the marsh above the high tide line. The foliage has a sage-like fragrance. In addition to its fragrance, this plant provides excellent cover for small animals and seeds for birds to eat.

California Wild Rose ( Rosa californica) is a shrub with pink, medium-sized flowers that bloom in late spring through summer. They are very fragrant. Wild Rose attracts pollinators and produces fruits that are a valuable food source for birds and mammals.


There’s an old song that goes something like this, “It’s a four letter word. It starts with an “S” and it ends with a “T.” It comes out of you, and it comes out of me. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t call it that. Let’s be scientific and call it SCAT!”

When walking or hiking, you often experience an odd, poignant, and nose pinching smell, which means, look out, don’t step in that scat! However, there’s a lot of fun in guessing who left that scat behind. Put on your best scat patrol shoes and see what you can find!