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

Ivy with holes in its leaves
May 31, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Pants, Please help me, I was given an ivy (origin unknown). It is peculiar. It has holes in the leaves, not from bugs or from bacteria, etc. It is natural, the holes develop in some type...
view the full question and answer

Identity of rejuvenated plant
May 19, 2012 - I am having trouble identifying my plant which has lived at least two years now, often looking completely dead, actually hibernating for a few weeks then bursting back to life. Small sprouts that grow...
view the full question and answer

Identity of tree in Grant AL
November 26, 2009 - What is the name of the tree in N.E. Alabama that has a big green heart shaped leaf in Nov. with clusters or nuts & blonde small nuts the size of a pea . And deer are eating the small blonde nut in No...
view the full question and answer

Looking for rattlesnake flower
April 22, 2008 - I taught school for many years. The students and I identified wildflowers. I had one I call Rattlesnake Flower. It was small and had a little blue flower. On the leaves were little seed cases that...
view the full question and answer

Unusual vine in San Diego County, California
May 12, 2012 - Dear Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, I came across an unusual vine winding through a young Zumaque growing off the edge of a mesa in San Diego (coastal sage scrub). The small (fingernail-sized)leaves rough...
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