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

Thursday - April 10, 2008

From: Cameron, MO
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of pink flower near Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My mother found a flower early this spring at Chrystal Falls park just outside of Austin. It was between red and salmon pink in color, tubular in shape and about 4 inches long. It smells very bad, attracts blow flies and only lives for a day or so. It doesn't appear to have a stem, just grows right on the ground. The park people said they had never seen the plant before and didn't know what it was. Hope you can help us, we're both avid wildflower watchers. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has two suggestions for the identity of your mother's pink flower—one of which isn't a flower at all, but a mushroom. In fact, from your description (no stem and bad smell) I would put my money on one of the stinkhorn mushrooms (Family Phallaceae)—perhaps Mutinus caninus or Mutinus elegans. Stinkhorns are very definitely smelly and are very likely to be covered by flies attracted to the odor. The flies spread the spores from the mushroom that stick to their legs when they walk across its surface.

The plant possibilties are the coralroots—Hexalectris spicata (spiked crested coralroot), Hexalectris nitida (Glass Mountain crested coralroot) or Corallorhiza wisteriana (spring coralroot). These all occur in Travis County, Texas and bloom in the spring. They don't, however, smell really bad, so my guess is that your mother saw one of the stinkhorn fungi.

Mr. SP would really be interested to know if she agrees once she has seen the photos.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

What are the differences between Arbutus xalapensis, A. unedo and A. marina
August 29, 2013 - One nursery lists madrone trees as arbutus uneda compacta and arbutus marina. The other lists it as arbutus xalapensis, which is the only name I can find in the data base. There is a very large pric...
view the full question and answer

Houseplant identification.
February 03, 2011 - Please help me identify a houseplant that flowers a yellow flower at the base of plant. Its leaves are narrow, pointed and green on the topside and burgundy with small hairs on the underside of the l...
view the full question and answer

Which one is huajillo and which one is guajillo?
November 19, 2013 - Recently I attended a field trip to the Leonard Garden at the Kleberg Institute in Kingsville. I took a picture of a tree that was referred to as Tenaza or huajillo. Later I took another photo of a ...
view the full question and answer

Wild cranberries in Pennsylvania
September 27, 2013 - Where are wild cranberries located in northwest PA, near Brookville?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers that grow in woodlands
June 22, 2011 - Please tell me the names of wildflowers that grow under your oak trees in Texas. I am only familiar with those open meadow plants, not those that live under the deciduous trees. Thank you for your t...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center