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 - September 06, 2007

From: Vancleave, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification, Chinese Lantern
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a plant growing along my fenceline that I am unsure of what it is. Some ppl have said it is a rare Chinese Lantern plant. I looked that up and it doesn't match. The plant right now sits about 2 ft tall, has broad leaves, a thick stalky stem, little yellow bowl-shape flowers on the top of the leave clusters and then at the split of the stems it has a green air filled like paper-lantern looking thing hanging from it. I live in Vancleave, MS and was wondering if you might know what this plant is. Thank you for your time.


Your plant doesen't sound like the Asian native Physalis alkekengi, nor does it sound like the North American native Quincula lobata (Chinese lantern). It does sound intriguing, however, and Mr. Smarty Plants would be happy to try to identify it if you would send us some photos.

Here are instructions for submitting photographs for identification:

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, not more than 640 x 480 pixels in size, 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.

You can also read this instructions on the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page in the lower right corner under "Plant Identification".


More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
August 07, 2015 - I live in southeastern Michigan. I found a plant growing in the backyard that caught my eye. I chalked it off as a weed, but it's unique. It is shaped like a bushing type plant, has red stem, each cl...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of Texas bullnettle (Cnidoscolus texanus)
September 15, 2009 - I'm trying to identify a small thorny plant that I found growing on our (previously undeveloped) dry lot in Hutto, Central Texas. It has small white flowers and green thorny bulbs. The leaves and st...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of purple flower in Washington state
July 19, 2013 - I need help. I am a 10 year old girl who just happens to have a brother. He has a deep purple flower with small, oval shaped petals. We would like to know what it is. We planted it in a garden thing a...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
June 19, 2010 - Hi there. I have a plant in my garden I'm trying to identify. It started out looking like a cabbage but now is huge, It has a large stalk going up the middle with purple bell looking flowers coming...
view the full question and answer

How to distinguish white-flowered Baptisias?
June 07, 2010 - How can I tell the difference between Baptisia alba and Baptisia alba var. macrophylla
view the full question and answer

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