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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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Monday - February 25, 2008

From: Rochester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant that looks like a spider plant
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Okay Mr. Smarty Pants, I have an identification for you. I have no pictures, but I've been staring at this plant for weeks trying to figure out what it is. I got it as a cutting from a friend who got it as a cutting from a friend and so on. It grows very similarly to a spider plant. Offshoots hanging down, but growing up. The leaves are wider and more uniformly colored than a spider plant as well. Overall has a more "lush" look. In the two years I've been seeing my friend's, I've never seen a flower of any sort on it. Seems to do fine in moderate lighting, with weekly waterings. In my new little baby cuttings, the very edges of the leaves are a slightly reddish purple. Not much info, but any ideas?

ANSWER:

First, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's focus and expertise are with plants native to North America. Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are native to South Africa and your plant that looks like a spider plant is probably not native to North America. Since it probably isn't native we aren't going to be able to tell you much about it, but we can point you in the right direction to find out about it yourself. Since there are close to 200 species of spider plants in the Genus Chlorophytum, yours could be one of those other species. However, since Chlorophytum comosum is the most common species, you probably have one of its many varieties. If you scroll down on the Glasshouse Works page, you can see several different varieties of C. comosum. Look especially at C. comosum 'Mandianum'. You can also search for more varieties by Googling on the scientific name of the plant. If none of these looks like your plant, perhaps you or your friend could take a photo of her more mature plant and send it to us to identify. You can find instructions for submitting photos for identification on the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page under "Plant Identification".

By the way, purple leaf edges can be caused by environmental or nutritional conditions and are not necessarily normal for your plant and, thus, not an identification feature.

 

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