En Español

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?


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 - August 21, 2014

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


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.


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.


More Plant Identification Questions

State flower of Hawaii
January 04, 2006 - What color is the state flower of Hawaii?
view the full question and answer

Identification of flower similar to bluebell in Washington
June 16, 2013 - Is there somewhere I can submit a picture to see what kind of flower it is? It looks like a bluebell but more star shaped. Found on the side of the road in Oak Harbor, WA
view the full question and answer

Wanting to grow a Buckley Oak in Amarillo, TX
January 20, 2016 - I live in Amarillo Texas in the Texas Panhandle. I recently became interested in the Buckley Oak and was wondering if it might grow well here and if so, where I might find one that I could purchase a...
view the full question and answer

Sending a picture of an oak from Yorktown TX
December 02, 2011 - How I can I send a pic of my oak in Yorktown near Cuero?
view the full question and answer

Dodder, rootless, leafless, parisitic twining plants
May 29, 2006 - Hello, I have been studying wildflowers in California for many years. Yesterday I came across a surprise and I am thus far unable to identify it. As it is raining today, I cannot get a photo, but I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center