En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

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


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.


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.


More Non-Natives Questions

Seeking information on Crateeva asiatica, non-native herbal medicine
September 29, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I had a look at your website in hope of finding information about the plant Crateeva asiatica. Could you kindly help me to locate the information for the same?
view the full question and answer

Wintering over of non-native Myriophyllum brasiliensis
October 27, 2008 - I have a Myriophyllum brasiliensis in my outdoor fountain which I drain in the cold weather. How can I keep the plant alive over the winter? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Information on non-native, invasive pampas grass
February 12, 2004 - Our neighborhood is doing a community landscaping project and pampas grass has been suggested. Is there a good article related to invasives that specifically mention pampas grass?
view the full question and answer

Native alternatives for non-native, invasive bamboo in New York
March 26, 2006 - I hope you can help me. This is not about wildflowers. I'm interested in planting bamboo as a screen (25'+). I know all the pros/cons and would need to have a nursery to put in barrier. I need some...
view the full question and answer

Will non-native Star Jasmine survive outside in winter in Ohio
October 27, 2008 - Hi! I have two Star Jasmine in pots (we brought them back to southern Ohio from CA this year). Should we bring them inside for the winter? Would they do okay outside next winter if we plant them in...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center