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

Thursday - July 17, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Vines
Title: Purple leatherflower with white bloom
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A couple of years ago at the wildflower center native plant sale I bought a purple leatherflower according to the tag. This is the first year it has bloomed and the blooms are pure white. The shape matches the images of the purple leatherflower. Does it need some nutrient or fertilizer that it isn't getting? Please advise, I'm confused.

ANSWER:

it sounds to me as if your Clematis pitcheri (Purple clematis) has experienced a mutation in the biochemical pathway that is responsible for the flower pigmentation.  The mutation itself probably didn't happen in your particular plant but happened generations ago.   Generally, mutations affecting flower color are recessive, i.e., both the pollen and the ovum of the plant that produced the seed that grew into the plant with white flowers had to have the mutant copy of the gene to produce this plant with white flowers.  A plant with one normal gene and one mutant gene would still have purple flowers.  You could see how it would take several generations to enable a mutant pollen grain to fertilize a mutant ovum.

There isn't really any nutrient or fertilizer that will change the color of this particular plant to purple.  However, if these white flowers receive pollen from a purple leatherflower, the plant that grows from the resultant seed will likely be purple.  Or, if the plant can and does self-pollinate, then its seeds will produce a plant with white flowers again.

The bottom line is that you will either need to wait for offspring of this plant (plants produced from its seeds)  to potentially have purple flowers or buy another plant.

 

More General Botany Questions

Smarty Plants on science projects
October 24, 2005 - Hello, i am a 6th grade student at a middle school in GA. I am doing a science project and my question is, "Does music affect plant growth?" Is there a plant that would work best for me to experiment...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on aceae
March 21, 2005 - How is the family suffix "-aceae", as in Asteraceae, pronounced? I find disagreeing claims in my searches- "ay-see-ee" and "ay-see-ay" seem to be the most common, but I've also seen just "ay-...
view the full question and answer

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Science Fair projects
September 13, 2005 - I would like to know what kind of plants can grow in two weeks? Please answer quickly so I can do my Science Fair project.
view the full question and answer

Plants for soils with extreme pH values
May 24, 2009 - I am doing a project on acid and alkaline on the ph scale but all I can find is a range of 5.0 to 8.0. Do they have plants in the range of 8.0 to 14.0 or 1.0 to 5.0? If not, why is that? If so, what a...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center