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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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Saturday - August 02, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of red flower in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What is the plant I have seen in urban landscapes in Austin, Texas, that have bright red flowers at the terminus of what looks like a spray of green, jointed, drooping branches (or stalks). It forms a relatively low clump. Looks to be drought tolerant plant.


Hmm. At first, I thought you were seeing Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) but then you said it forms a relatively low clump so this may not be it. Another possibility that is also rather tall is Ipomopsis rubra (standing-cypress) that had its peak blooming in June. Here are a few other possibilities for native landscaping plants with red blossoms that are commonly used in Austin:

Penstemon baccharifolius (baccharisleaf beardtongue)

Salvia penstemonoides (big red sage)

Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage)

Stachys coccinea (scarlet hedgenettle)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

It is possible that the plant you are seeing isn't a native. If it isn't one of the plants above, please send us photos and we will do our best to identify it. Visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read instructions for submitting photos (under "Plant Identification").

Hesperaloe parviflora

Ipomopsis rubra

Penstemon baccharifolius

Penstemon baccharifolius

Salvia roemeriana

Stachys coccinea

Lobelia cardinalis

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii




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