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
1 rating

Sunday - July 06, 2014

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant with white spike blooms and red berries
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I just came back from a hike in Dallas and found large areas where a lanceolate- to acuminate- leafed herb was blooming spikes of white, 4 petal flowers that quickly turn to bright red berries, sometimes on the same spike! I cannot find it in your databases, and apologize if it is a non-native plant. Any ideas of what it is?

ANSWER:

Very good description!  This sounds to me like Rivina humilis (Pigeonberry).  The photographs in our Image Gallery show mostly pinkish flowers but there are ones with mostly white flowers as well.   The leaf shape matches your description, the flowers do have four petals and are on a spike with red berries that quickly follow the flower bloom. Their distribution range includes the Dallas area and they are blooming here in the Austin area at the present.  Here are photos and more information from the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) and the University of Connecticut (if you click on the photo of the flowers or the one of the berries on this page you will get a large image to view).

Interestingly, it is considered an environmental weed in Queensland, Australia and as invasive in South Africa.  The origin of the plants in both areas were originally imports from North, Central and/or South America.  Invasives can happen in both directions!

If pigeonberry isn't the plant you saw and you have photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

More Plant Identification Questions

Identity of plant with thorns in Maryland
August 27, 2013 - I live in Maryland and was walking in the woods one day when I accidentally stumbled in to a thorn bush. I don't remember what color the thorns where or very much about the plant in general but I do ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID at Wildflower Center from Waco TX
June 18, 2012 - I was at the Center last weekend and no one was able to answer these two questions: 1. Where can I buy Silver Ponyfoot groundcover? 2. What is the name of the plant with coral blossoms in front of...
view the full question and answer

Tree with light-colored bark, thorns and long white clumps of flowers
August 18, 2015 - I bought a tree at the LBJWC plant sale a couple years ago but lost the name of the tree. I'm finally ready to plant it in the ground and would like to learn more about what its needs are. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers that grow in woodlands
June 22, 2011 - Please tell me the names of wildflowers that grow under your oak trees in Texas. I am only familiar with those open meadow plants, not those that live under the deciduous trees. Thank you for your t...
view the full question and answer

Photo identification from Sun Tan Valley AZ
June 29, 2013 - I just tried sending y'all some photos of a plant I'd like to identify. The email address failed. Please let me know how I can get these 3 photos sent.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center