What is pluff mud?

Learn about this infamous mud found in the Lowcountry.

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This smelly substance is a vital part of our local ecosystem.

Photo by @billy_ellison

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P.U. — we bet you can smell this photo. Across the scenic marshland of the Lowcountry is pluff mud, and it smells like home. Okay, it’s more like rotten eggs, but this stinky substance is a key part of our local ecosystem.

Here’s some stuff about pluff.

What is it?

Pluff mud is a soft, clay-like substance found in Lowcountry salt marshes that’s made up of decaying matter.

Why is it so smelly?

When marsh grasses and marine life decompose, bacteria in the mud release hydrogen sulfide, which smells like eggs gone bad.

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Spot pluff mud at low tide.

Photo by @roysplacehhi

How did it get its name?

The name “plough mud” dates back to the early 19th century when planters started plowing the substance into the fields as a fertilizer. At the time, “plow” was spelled “plough.” “Pluff” is an alternate spelling.

Why is it important?

Pluff mud is full of nutrients that keep the marshlands healthy and provides a food source for many organisms. The mud also supports oyster beds.

Next time you’re near the marsh, see if you can catch a whiff of pluff mud and fall a little more in love with Charleston. Note: Be careful not to get stuck in the muck.

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