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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - March 14, 2008

From: Weir, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a Globe Mallow
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. SP, Two or three years ago I purchased a mallow at the Wildflower Center that (I was told) had not yet been identified. I have looked at your pictures of Sphaeralcea hastulata which has the same flower however, the foliage on my plant is not quite as green, it is more gray. My plant is now two feet tall and probably two and a half feet wide. It did not die back this winter and is in full bloom now. What plant do you think I have. I am a docent for the Center, and am a grower located 10 miles northeast of Georgetown. I love this plant and am going to attempt to propagate it for sale.

ANSWER:

As it happens, I am also a Docent at the Wildflower Center. (You knew it was a team, not just one incredibly brilliant person, didn't you?) I also purchased a globe mallow at the Spring Sale in 2007, and have been cultivating it in a pot in my Cement Garden (patio to my apartment) since then. It is now in glorious bloom, and I'm wondering if we may have the same plant. I also do not remember exactly the name, except it was referred to as a "globe mallow" and I vaguely remember it also being called a "woolly globe mallow." I would then infer that it would be Sphaeralcea lindheimeri (woolly globemallow). The same plant that I have is now blooming against the stone wall outside the Library on the pathway to the Administration Building entrance, so you might stop by and take a look at it the next time you're there.

I also found this Texas A&M Bioinformatics Working Group website on Texas Endemics, which shows the areas where Sphaeralcea lindheimeri (woolly globemallow) are presently found naturally are pretty exclusively in South Texas. If you're still not satisfied that we have the plant identified, could you send us a digital image? There are instructions for doing so in the lower right hand corner of the "Ask Mr. Smarty Plants" page.


Sphaeralcea lindheimeri

Sphaeralcea lindheimeri

Sphaeralcea lindheimeri

 

 

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