En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - February 29, 2008

From: CYPRESS, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant purchased as desert willow
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Purchased a plant at Chappel Hill, Texas and was told it was a desert willow. The bloom cluster and pink color are very similar, but leaves resemble the wisteria. Very pretty. What is it? Can it be rooted in water?

ANSWER:

Did you purchase the plant recently, or have you had it for at least a season? The reason we ask is that if you just bought it and it had leaves on it, it would not be a desert willow, which is deciduous. None of the desert willows around Austin have started putting on leaves yet. So let's examine the two possibilities and see if we can help you.

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) is a deciduous small tree, used a lot for erosion control, as its roots can hold earth even on a slope. It therefore stands to reason that it needs good drainage wherever it's planted. In spite of the name, it is not related to willows, but belongs to the Begnoniaceae or trumpet creeper family and can be propagated either by cuttings or seed. The desert willow blooms are purple to pink, blooming from April to September, and look a little like catalpa blooms. It is native to West Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, so it has low water needs, and requires quite a bit of sun.

According to this Ohio State University Extension website, the two species of wisteria typically grown in home gardens are Wisteria sinensis or Chinese wisteria and Wisteria floribunda, or Japanese wisteria. Neither of these are natives of North America and therefore don't fall into the expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Wisteria is an aggressive, climbing plant, going up poles, fences, even buildings with stems that wrap around for support. It is a member of the Fabaceae (pea) family. Plants propagated by seed may need to mature 10 to 15 years before they begin to bloom. If you will look at these images of wisteria and then examine the pictures of desert willow below, you will see that the leaves, growth habit and blooms are very dissimilar. If you purchased the plant in a nursery, and it was tagged as a desert willow, and turns out to be something else, you should probably contact the nursery.

If you still haven't identified your plant, could you perhaps send us a picture? There are instructions for sending us pictures in the lower right hand corner of the Mr. Smarty Plants page. And, finally, you asked about reproducing the plant you have. Since whatever plant you have is apparently a woody plant, this North Carolina State University website has an excellent article on propagation of woody plants by cuttings.


Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

 

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Will Butterfly Plant Survive in Mansfield, Texas
January 06, 2012 - I have a butterfly plant that was very successful (about 4 feet tall) right up until the cold snap three weeks ago. I've read they have a tap root, so I'm hoping it will come back next spring. Mea...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Round Rock TX
October 26, 2010 - I am looking for the name of a ground cover I saw that looked like large bur oak leaf in a silvery green color. It was in the shade. I tried a search with no luck. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Identification of oak trees in Pennsylvania
October 14, 2013 - I am an avid hunter in PA. I found these nuts and was wondering what kind they are. There is a red oak beside this tree, and I know what a white oak is but this tree and it's nuts look to be from a...
view the full question and answer

Identity of yellow-flowered plant with stickers
November 06, 2012 - I have yellow flowered plant taking over my lawn. I used weed killers last year and it has spread this year and still spreading. It has small burs (not as hard as a regular sticker bur but will stic...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 29, 2008 - My parents have a plant growing that we can not identify. Fast growing to 6 ft in 6 weeks. theleaves look like a fern with little sweet pea looking yellow blooms. The plants leaves fold up at dusk tig...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center