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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Friday - January 10, 2014

From: Cambria, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of bamboo-like plant in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We just bought a house in Cambria, CA. The plant I'd like to ID grows like bamboo -- spreading fibrous stalks abt 6' high with beautiful orange blossoms that protrude out the top of the stalk. The shoots grow out of a bulb or tuber or rhizome (don't know, but definitely bulb-type) & spread. It has rather large leaves with pink & green stripes. The stalks are not leafy, they look exactly like purplish bamboo & the leaves grow out from them. Any help would be much appreciated.

ANSWER:

This sounds like a canna plant.  Canna striata is a good candidate.  Here are more photos from Missouri Botanical GardenCanna 'Bengal Tiger' is another possibility.  Here are photos of other canna varieties from GardenPhotos.com.  Here are photos and information about another variety, Canna indica and a hybrid of Canna indica and the Florida native, Canna flaccida, called Canna x generalis.

Canna species are native to tropical and sub-tropical Central and South America.  There are two North American native species of canna—Canna flaccida (Bandanna of the everglades) occurring in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina and Canna glauca (Water canna) in Louisiana and Texas.  Here are photos and more information about Canna flaccida.  Canna species have been extensively hybridized and now many varieties grow all over the world—in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia.

If this doesn't happen to be the plant that is in your garden, please visit our Plant Identificaion page where you will find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

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