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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 21, 2014

From: Wantagh, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification from New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a sunflower like plant growing mysteriously in our garden. Its leaves are large heart shaped. It is a single stem plant. The base of each branch is a small, orange colored bud looking as if its about to bloom. At this time July 28th it is approximately 3 ft. tall and still growing.. any suggestions as to what this could be.

ANSWER:

From your description I am afraid i can't pin down a particular plant as your mystery plant.  Since it is growing in your garden there is a high likelihood that it isn't a North American native plant, but a introduced cultivar that has escaped from someone else garden via seeds carried by the wind or birds or other wildlife.  If that is the case, we and our Native Plant Database aren't going to be much help since our focus and expertise are with North American native plants.  However, if you think it might be a native plant and would like to search for it in our database, here are a couple of different ways to do your searching.   First, since you think it is sunflower-like, you can search for it in the Family Asteraceae (Aster or Sunflower Family).  On the Native Plant Database page scroll down the list in the Family: slot and choose "Asteraceae (Aster Family)".  This will give you a list of more than 1100 plants.  Next, in the sidebar, use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose "New York" from the Select State or Province, "Herb" from General Appearance, and "Yellow" and "Orange" from Bloom Color.  This will give you a more manageable list to look through.  If you think it could be in another family besides the aster/sunflower family, you can do a more general search by choosing COMBINATION SEARCH on the Native Plant Database page and then using the same criteria you used for the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option above.

If neither of the searches above helps you find the identity of your plant and if you have (or can take) photos of it, please visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  I recommend that you start with the UBC Botanical Garden Forums.  Be sure to read the "Important Notes..." on our page for submitting photos for identification.

 

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