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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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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.

 
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Wednesday - July 09, 2008

From: Bogart, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Pink flower in South Carolina, perhaps poisonous
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I saw a beautiful plant while touring Charleston, SC. I do not remember the name - the tour guide talked about a long time ago women giving it to their husband's in tea (maybe?) to kill them. Of course this wasn't true. It had really pretty pink flowers & looked tropical. I'd love to plant some by my pool, can you help me find what they are?? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Hmm... Mr. Smarty Plants wonders if we need to let your husband know about this!

One possibility is the non-native Nerium oleander (oleander), which is extremely toxic. You can read about it in these toxic plant databases: Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database and Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System.

Here are a few other possibilities:

Dicentra spp. (bleeding heart, Dutchman's breeches) native

Kalmia angustifolia, (Lambkill, sheep laurel) native

Daphne genkwa (lilac daphne) introduced from China

Mandevilla spp. (mandevilla) introduced from Central and South America

Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple, mandrake) native

Rhododendron spp. (rhododendrons, azaleas) native and introduced from Asia

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 'South Carolina' from the Select State or Province category and select 'Pink' from the Bloom Characteristics Color. You can also select 'Herb', 'Shrub', or 'Tree' from Habit (general appearance) category to narrow your search further.

 

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