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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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Friday - July 20, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of possible edible huckleberry in Central Texas
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I'm trying to identify a plant in my backyard, and in particular, I'm wondering if it's an edible huckleberry of some kind. Given all the rain Austin has had this summer, I wonder if it's not beyond the realm of the possible. Also, the plant is growing in the shade, and I'd think that's where huckleberries would tend to grow. I'd be happy to send a picture should it help. To describe in semi-scientific terms, it is deep green, with the main branches appearing green (not woody). From each node on the main branches where leaves extend, usually three leaves (not compound, as each has their own stem) extend. I would best desribe the leaves as being in the shape of a miniature catalpa (teardrop), ranging from 1/2" to 1" in length and 1/4" to 1/2" in width. The fruit, also attached to it's own stem, extends from nodes with the leaves. The initial flower is white and it tends to droop, and the fruit begins as green (of course) and turns to red. (Just so you know, I looked in the LBJWC plant database at the 3 huckleberry varieties, and this one does not tend to match up.) Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Sometimes we can identify a plant from a description, often we cannot -- even when the description is as thoughtful and detailed as yours. A picture or set of pictures will help. Here's how to send them to us:

1. Tell us where and when you found the plant and describe the site where it occurred.

2. Take several images including details of leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and the overall plant.

3. Save images in JPEG format, with resolution set at 300 pixels per inch.

4. Send email with images attached to id@smartyplants.org. Put Plant Identification Request in the subject line of your email.

 

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