Even though the distinct smell of Phuopsis stylosa AKA Caucasian Crosswort had long been emanating from the house at the end of a cul-de-sac, that didn’t stop the masked gang members from forcing their way into the property, demanding that the couple hand over their stash. But, given it was the aforementioned plant, the middle-aged couple was understandably bewildered at the demand.
It has emerged that the British couple had Caucasian Crosswort growing in their front garden, a plant that gives off a smell that strongly resembles that of cannabis, which led the bungling burglars to the house.
When the home invaders discovered that the house was not a grow house, they chose to rob the couple, making off with cash and other personal items. Despite the almost comical mistake, the couple was obviously left traumatized – not to mention, utterly confused – about what led to the encounter.
The police officers that were called to the property in Winford, Bristol, were just as confused, too. When arriving at the property, the officers could smell the strong scent of your favorite herb around the house but were unable to identify the source. That is until an officer contacted Alan Down, a local horticulture expert, about what it could be.
The police officer who came to see me said he specialized in drugs. He knew of several plants that smelled like cannabis but he couldn’t see them in the garden. – Down
The horticulturist instructed the officer to take cuttings of the smelliest plants in the couple’s garden, which were given to him, and he quickly identified the culprit as the aforementioned Phuopsis stylosa.
The smell is so distinct, it really does smell like cannabis. It’s an uncommon garden plant that makes good ground cover, and is easy to grow, but it comes from Iran and is an unusual plant to find in the UK. It’s more intense when it’s hot and dry.
He also said he was able to identify the plant and its delicate pink flowers because he had seen it previously on a trip to a farm, where he’d taken a photo for his record.
I knew roughly what it was but it took me a little while. The police were very grateful. I assume this couple will dig it up now.
Although neighbors said the smell had emitted from the garden for at least a decade, most thought it was foxes, not weed. In fact, one neighbor said, “The smell is quite strong. It always smelt as if it was where foxes had been.”