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Identify This Smelly Plant With Orange Flowers And Fuzzy Leaves

Ask The Expert: I need help identifying a new plant I got from a friend. The leaves are similar to oak leaves only sharp not rounded. The steps grow out in long trailing branches, like an ivy, and the leaves are dark green on top and eggplant purple on the bottom, and are a bit fuzzy. Leaves are appx 3 inches long. One stem has tiny flower heads on the very end of it. The ‘petals” are very tiny and feathery and are marigold orange in color. The kind of have an unpleasant odor. there is a cluster of 7 of them just on the end of that one step.
Help! I don’t want to kill this beautiful plant

Gynura aurantiaca

Photo Provided by Cal’ Plant of The Week ideveloped by the University of Oklahoma Department of Botany & Microbiology, specifically Cal Lemke (OU’s Greenhouse Grower).


  1. Elaine,

    I have attached a picture above of a plant that sounds like your description. I have grown this plant in our greenhouse and it does have a bit of an offensive odor. It is commonly called purple passion vine, botanically it is known as Gynura aurantiaca ‘Purple Passion’. The key to keeping this plant healthy is maintaining a moist but not soggy soil condition. During the growing we fertilizer it once a week with a diluted water soluble balance fertilizer. You can prune it any time if it needs it but we usually trim it back going into the dormant season. We have found that the younger leaves tend to be more colorful than the older leaves. It likes a sunny to partial shade growing environment.

    Hopefully this is the plant that you have. If this photo doesn’t look like your plant you can upload a photo of your plant in the comments area and I will take another try at identifying your plant.

    Just a little thanks. Although we grow it in our greenhouse, I didn’t have a good picture but thanks to Cal Lemke I was able to use the photo from his Plant of the Week – a service provided by the University of Oklahoma Department of Botany & Microbiology. Their Cal’s Plant of the Week includes a photo of the plant with culture information to boot.

  2. Thanks so very much – that is exactly the plant! It used to sit in a solidly north facing window and seemed to thrive. I had to set it out of the way when I brought it home until I could identify (thanks again) and until I can determine if it is toxic to cats or dogs (I have both) – I don’t suppose you know the toxicity?

    It is a neat plant – but I am afraid it might not make it now…I set it in a south facing basement window hoping the filtered light might imitate the north facing light. And I kind of forgot it…I watered it this AM and will now keep an eye on it.
    And thanks to the photo taker and sharer…I’ll photgraph mine when it feels better… “)

  3. Elaine,

    I did some research and with the information that I found Gynura aurantiaca is a non toxic plant to humans, dogs and cats.

  4. Bless you! my stepson, whose room the plant is currently housed in, comes home from his vacation Tuesday and now I can put the plant in my main living area around the 4 furry pets! Thanks so very much….hopefully it lives out the week…it sure doesn’t like that southern exposure room, even though it is a basement.

    Thanks again!

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