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?

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

What plants grow well in Athens, TX?
January 18, 2011 - Athens, Texas, we have very sandy soil mixed with clay, what plants grow well here?
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for landscaping along a creek in Lenoir, NC
July 25, 2011 - I live in Lenoir, NC and would like to landscape my creek bank that is about 90 feet long and is 200 feet from my house. I thought about evergeen bushes maybe rhododendron; some grasses; a few trees ...
view the full question and answer

Small area native plant gardening for an apartment
November 14, 2008 - Mr.Smarty, We live in an apartment and are fortunate to have a small area, 5'x5', and so want color! Here in Houston the winters don't freeze much and the summers are HOT. Luckily, we are in the ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant with white flowers and serrated leaves in creek bed
September 17, 2012 - I have a wild fall blooming plant, white flowers, serrated leaves. Growing abundantly in my dry creek bed. Any thoughts?
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
March 26, 2013 - I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have...
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