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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!

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Monday - March 03, 2008

From: Blue Springs, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Checklist of native plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have recently submitted my membership. I would like to know if there is a complete list of wildflowers, that one may check off as they are seen, such as the birders check off their lifetime list.

ANSWER:

As far as Mr. Smarty Plants knows, there are no formal checklists like those one finds for birds. This is no doubt because, according to the Audubon Society, there are only about 800 bird species that occur in the continental United States while, as reported by Flora of North America, the number of species of plants is more than 20,000 with 21% of those being endemic. Worldwide there are more than 270,000 flowering plants (not including ferns, conifers, and cycads). Even if you focused only on the endemic species of North America, that would still be over 4000 species of plants. So, I think your best bet is to start on a smaller scale—say, Missouri, or perhaps your county, Jackson County, in Missouri.

Here are a few lists for you:

1) Try a "Combination Search" in our Native Plant Database. Not only can you select Missouri under "Select State or Province, you can also add criteria for "Habit", "Duration", "Light Requirement" and "Soil Moisture".

2) Missouriplants.com has a list of approximately 1085 plants growing in Missouri. Not all the plants on this list are native to North America (e.g., Verbascum thapsus, common mullein) but the descriptions tell the origin of all the plants.

3) There is a checklist of Missouri Plants of Conservation Concern.

4) You can download a list of native plants found in Jackson County, Missouri from the USDA Plants Database by selecting "Advanced Search" in the Search menu. You have many options to choose once you reach the "Advanced Search" page. The minimum you might like to select under Part A is:

a. Under A.1 Distribution, select Jackson County, Missouri from the County category.

b. Under A.2 Taxonomy, put a check in the "Display" box by Scientific Name, National Common Name, and Family

c. Under A.3 Ecology, select Native to North America.

You can do the same for all of Missouri by choosing "Missouri" from the State and Province category.

5) You can download States PLANT Checklists and NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) State Plants Lists from the Search menu on the USDA Plants Database.

6) Finally, you can find county distribution maps for Missouri plants in the Atlas of Missouri Vascular Plants with Dot Maps.

 

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