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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

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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Saturday - June 07, 2008

From: Kansas City, MO
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant with large furry leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have 4 huge plants in my flower garden that I cannot identify. They look like an unfolding cabbage with large furry leaves. They also have tiny stickers on them. This a.m. I went out to check on them & the leaves appear to be rotting. What can it be???

ANSWER:

The large furry leaves unfolding like cabbage sound like mullein (Verbascum thapsus), an introduced species brought over with European settlers in the 1700s. It has spread over North America as well as generally around the world. The only part of your description that doesn't match with mullein is that I am not aware that mullein has "tiny stickers". If this isn't the plant in your garden, please send us some photos of the plants and we will do our best to identify it. To send us photos, please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page and read the instructions under "Plant Identification".
 

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