On occasion, I like to share more than one photograph about a plant–this is one of those days. The previous occasion was Babiana ringens, if you’re new to the site.
Gum plant, or as it is known in its native Patagonia, Bóton de Oro (gold button?–someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Ah, thanks Dana for the correct translation in the comments–it means “golden blossom”) contains high levels of resin in its leaves (hence the English common name), so much so that it has been researched for potential use in industrial applications. The resin contains a class of hydrocarbons known as terpenes.
I think it’s fair to say that the general consensus is terpenes are quite foul-smelling (Nope, I’m wrong! See floater’s comments below this post. Thanks for the correction!). If you visit UBC’s Alpine Garden or see this plant elsewhere, touch the white glossy surface on the flower heads (note of caution: I’d avoid doing so if you are allergic to rubber or latex). It has a gummy texture, although from its appearance you’d think it would be slimy. If you smell your fingertips after, I think you’ll find yourself mildly disgusted. As an aside, I wish that the language of smells was easier to evoke, so I could be more descriptive.