What causes the sweet smell of rain in Arizona?

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The sweet smell of rain has little to do with Mother Nature. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The sweet smell of rain has little to do with Mother Nature. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Ooh that smell! Can't ya smell that smell?

At first thought, that smell is rain! Not quite though in Arizona and many parts of the country. That sweet desert smell you notice right after a monsoon storm is from a desert plant called the creosote bush!

 

[MOBILE USER: Click/tap here to see photo of a creosote bush]

This plant isn't really much to look at, but it sure is old! Like really really old! 

Scientists estimate a particular creosote bush in the Mojave Desert is more than 10,000 years old! That's as old as some of the earliest migration of humans onto this continent.

[SLIDESHOW: Best of Arizona's 2017 monsoon]

Leaves secrete oil when it is dry and after the rain, the scent of that oil is wafted into the air. Soil, dirt, rocks, bacteria and other compounds call also give rain a certain scent.

[MOBILE USER: Click/tap here to see photo of creosote leaves]

Although they smell sweet, the creosote leaves are gross. Many animals don't even bother trying to eat them. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Weather Blog]

Check out the pictures in this blog and see if you can spot the creosote bush on the highway or at the Desert Botanical Garden.

If you get close and take a good smell, it just might remind you of a fresh monsoon rain. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Monsoon 2017]

[MOBILE USER: Click/tap here to see photo of creosote leaves]

More info on the monsoon!

3TV and CBS 5 meteorologists on Twitter

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