Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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.

 
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

More information on plants native to Taylor County TX
February 13, 2012 - Re: Thursday - September 15, 2011 QUESTION: Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants ...
view the full question and answer

Which plants grow well together
April 17, 2009 - Please tell me what plants grow best together and which plants do not grow very good together
view the full question and answer

Plants for a hillside in WI
February 18, 2012 - I live in Wisconsin and am currently doing a research project on plant variation on the north and south sides of a hill. I was wondering you could suggest any books to me that would address this issue...
view the full question and answer

Weak stems on asters and ironweed from Woodbridge ON
June 06, 2012 - My question is in regards to plants flopping over. My smooth asters and ironweeds never seem to have strong stems. Is because the soil is too fertile or maybe too shallow?
view the full question and answer

Where do snake herb and skeleton-leaf goldeneye get their names?
October 05, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Where does snake herb, and skeleton leaf goldeneye get their names from? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.