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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.

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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.

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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.

 
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Saturday - August 02, 2014

From: Breckenridge, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of orange-flowered plant with portulaca-like leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

As a last resort, I'm asking you. The plant identification page has not been helpful. Recently moved to Breckenridge, Texas and found several plants with 5 petaled orange flowers in the pasture. Lots of branches on each 10 in. plant, but has almost portulaca leaves. I don't know if it's a wildflower or something the previous owner may have planted. Flowers or about 3/4 in. across. I dug them up to move closer to house and the roots are like tubers. I'm stumped!

ANSWER:

Here is my best guess as to what your orange-flowered plant is—Phemeranthus aurantiacus (Orange flameflower).  Its leaves look like those of portulaca plants—indeed, it is in the Family Portulacaceae (Purslane Family)—and it has a fleshy tuber-like root. The USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in Stephens County.

If that isn't your plant, here are a couple of other possibilities.

Sphaeralcea hastulata (Spear globemallow)

Portulaca umbraticola (Wingpod purslane)  Here are photos of this plant with orange flowers from Desert Tropicals and Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers.

If none of these is your plant, then try our Plant Identification page again where you will find links to several plant identification forums that accept photos of plants for identification.   I recommend the one on the UBC Botanical Garden Forums page.

 

From the Image Gallery


Orange flameflower
Phemeranthus aurantiacus

Orange flameflower
Phemeranthus aurantiacus

Spear globemallow
Sphaeralcea hastulata

Wingpod purslane
Portulaca umbraticola

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