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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

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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Tuesday - April 01, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Availability of Heliotropium angiospermum from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford, Joe Marcus, Sean Watson

QUESTION:

I have admired the Wildflower Center's Heliotropium angiospermum (Scorpian's Tail) for the great number of butterflies it attracts. I would really love to purchase one on these plants, but don't see it on your upcoming plant sale list. Any information on where or when this plant might be available would be appreciated. Please consider selling this plant in the future. Thanks.

ANSWER:

This species is one of those odd ducks that are difficult to classify neatly.  In some instances it acts as an annual, though it may also be a short-lived perennial in some environments.  Likewise, as an annual plant it is essentially herbaceous, though if it perennializes it can become a bit woody and seem more like a subshrub or shrub.  In south Texas, which is at the northern extreme of this species’ range, it’s basically an annual herb.

 According to Sean Watson, our Nursery Manager, Scorpion’s-tail will not be available at this spring’s sale, though other sales are possible.  One or both of the two Native Plant Society Of Texas chapters that do their fundraisers at our sales might have it, but we won’t know about that until the day of the sale.

However, that having been said, we found this previous answer identifying a plant growing in a container in front of the Auditorium at the Center, in 2012.

Here are the growing conditions for this plant:

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX

Mr. Smarty Plants, of course, has no say in what plants are sold in our semi-annual sales, but we have expert horticulturists and gardeners working year round to select the best plants; in many cases, grown in our own greenhouses, for the Sales.

Since we have no pictures of Scorpion's-Tail in our Image Gallery, here are some from Google.

 

 

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