En EspaÑol

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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 28, 2014

From: Sand Lake, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: General Botany, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Should Rock Harlequin stay green all winter?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a rock harlequin that came up in a area that had been disturbed. It came up last summer/fall and the foliage survived our tough winter. I can not find anything about this plant staying green all winter. Is this normal? The plant is almost 3 feet tall and has many branches and flowers now. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Rock Harlequin, Corydalis sempervirens, is listed in all references as a biennial and in many refereces as a sometimes annual.  Some plants of this species that get an early start in the spring may complete their life cycle (seed germination, vegetative growth, flowering, fruiting and death) in one calendar year.  Otherwise, they will overwinter in the vegetative growth stage the first year and complete their life cycles in the following year.

Interestingly, you have to look no farther than this species' botanical name to get an idea of it overwintering characteristics.  The specific epithet, sempervirens, is taken from two Latin words meaning "always green."  A number of evergreen plant species have sempervirens as their specific epithet.

Just as you described your plant's habitat, this species is commonly found in disturbed areas.  It is especially common in areas of recent forest fires.

Your plant is likely to flower and fruit through the summer and into fall and will die at the end of this year's growing season, but not before replenishing the soil seed bank around it with large numbers of its progeny.  When conditions are right again -- next spring or in years to come -- some of this year's seed crop will germinate and begin the life cycle anew.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX
July 30, 2012 - I see information on Pink Evening Primrose that says it attracts 'many butterflies' Please tell me which butterflies and name them? I've looked everywhere and am just exhausted and frustrated with...
view the full question and answer

Insect infestation, identification and treatment
April 21, 2008 - help! I have an infestation of small flies in my flower/vegetable beds. They seem to be eating the leaves of just about everything. I've tried to find out exactly what they are, but haven't had any ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Need a pretty ground cover to control erosion in Rigdeway, SC.
June 09, 2012 - What is a fast, pretty ground cover blanket to control erosion on steep hill. gets full sun.
view the full question and answer

Looking for native plants for a rain garden in Arlington, TX.
March 12, 2012 - I am looking for native Texas plants that would do well in rain gardens. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center