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

Good website for identifying wildflowers
April 27, 2008 - What is a good website to identify wildflowers? I have done Google searches and none of the websites seem to help. Where should I go?
view the full question and answer

Is Tagetes lemmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy) native to the Southwest?
September 01, 2014 - Due to the continued drought I have resolved to only use native plants in my garden. Copper canyon daisy is be recommended more often at nurseries. The NPSOT lists it a native of Arizona, yet I cann...
view the full question and answer

Identification of flower in book
August 12, 2015 - Hi, I make paper flowers and I came across this flower in my book under the name camellia. But I am sure it is not. I tried finding out similar flowers but i am lost as I don't know if such a flower ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 24, 2008 - I found a flower about 5 inches tall and it is Pinkish White the head of it hangs down and looks like a rose that hasn't bloomed yet. It reminds me of an Orchid like Fairy . Its Mystic like! what is ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from San Marcos TX
June 07, 2014 - My dogs love to eat the leaves of a certain little orange wildflower. It might be Wedelia or Texas creeping oxeye. Have you ever heard of this?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center