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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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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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Monday - June 16, 2008

From: Hillsdale, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of thorny plant in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton


i live in southern michigan and have a thorny plant with oval leaves growing in my flower beds. this used to be a grassy area how did it get there. i live on the edge of town. what plants in my area have thorns


Here are some possibilities for your plant:

Laportea canadensis (wood nettle or Canada nettle). Here is another photo of the plant.

Rubus flagellaris (northern dewberry) and Rubus pensilvanicus (Pennsylvania blackberry)

Rosa palustris (swamp rose)

Smilax tamnoides (bristly greenbriar)

Solanum carolinense (Carolina horsenettle)

Solanum rostratum (buffalobur nightshade)

Xanthium strumarium (rough cockleburr)

If none of these happens to be it, please send us a photo and we will do our very best to identify it. Visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page for instructions on how to submit photos under "Plant Identification".

How did this plant get there? The most likely way is that its seed was deposited there by a bird or mammal who consumed the fruit somewhere else.

Rubus flagellaris

Rosa palustris

Solanum carolinense

Solanum rostratum

Xanthium strumarium



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