En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - July 06, 2008

From: LaPorte, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant Identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to identify a small tree or large plant here in Indiana. I have seen it from 6 ft to as tall as 15 to 20. It is a green leaf with pink cone shaped growth at the ends of a branch. The cone is upside down (wide part is base of branch) The pink is furry and is made up of very small balls that are greenish/whitish closer to the center of the cone. I first saw this when O was a girl scout in southern Michigan(same are just 10 Min North of here) I actually licked one on a dare back then and it was very sweet tasting. I have been told it is poisonious, but no one seems to know what it is. I did not get sick from it and my father can chew poison ivy and roll around in it (from his childhood stories also) and not get it, so it is possible I would not not have a reaction to poisonious plants either. I do have a picture, but cannot find anything like it on the internet. Please help.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has looked for this, but either it's not a plant native to North America and thus is not in our Native Plant Database or I haven't understood your description well enough to recognize it. I am assuming that what you are describing is the fruit of the plant, am I right? If so, do you know what the flower looked like that produced the fruit? Can you describe the shape of the leaves? Does it grow in the woods or in or near someone's lawn or garden? If you can provide this information, Mr. SP might have a better chance of identifying it. Better yet, if you happen to have photos of it, please send them to us and we will have an even better chance of identifying it. Visit Ask Mr. Smarty Plants to find the instructions (under "Plant Identification") for submitting photos.

In case it is a native plant, here is a way you can search for it yourself in our Native Plant Database. Do a Combination Search, selecting 'Indiana' from the Select State or Province category and select 'Tree' from the Habit (general appearance) category. You will get a list of trees that are native and grow in Indiana with thumbnail photos next to most of the entries. You can scroll through them and see if you find one that looks like your plant. You can do the search again choosing 'Shrub' instead of 'Trees' and/or 'Michigan' instead of 'Indiana'.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of thorny vine in Michigan
May 21, 2013 - We have a species growing around our rural SW Michigan property that I'm trying to identify: I either see stalks up to 3 ft tall, or much longer vines if they find anchor. The most notable characte...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
May 13, 2014 - I am trying to identify a plant. The leaves looks like cannabis, (I know its not) its has red flowers and grows a green seed pod that turns yellow and falls off. It usually contains 3 or 4 seeds in th...
view the full question and answer

Natural location of Ceanothus impressus in California
May 21, 2006 - Where is Ceanothus impressus 'victoria' native? I need as specific as you can. Thanks much.
view the full question and answer

What is it?
May 29, 2008 - We have two bushes about three ft. high that have narrow leaves that are about one to two inches long and glossy green on top side with soft green on back. They are fairly close together on stems with...
view the full question and answer

Identity of flowering yellow trees in Austin
March 21, 2012 - There are numerous flowering yellow trees in my Austin neighborhood. Are they mesquite or goldenball lead trees? They are quite fragrant, like a new bar of soap.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center