Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 06, 2008

From: Carnation, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification, possibly Actaea rubra, red baneberry
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I came across a plant that has leaves similar to the astillbe shrub, stands about 3 feet high, and instead of a flower spire, has a chunk of bright red berries the size of medium-sized pearls atop its "pole". The stem is hollow,green, and it was last week of July that I spotted it, standing out in the brush like a red flag - a big pompom solid-packed with berries all by its lonesome under the tall firs. We are in Washington State and I've been researching for two days now on native plants with red berries and can't raise it. I've found two of these plants growing singly straight up with that pompom of bright red berries. Each berry contains about 10 large, wedge-shaped seeds. I don't know the color the flower may have been or what month it bloomed. I did a leaf rubbing of the leaves, which look very similar to astillbe. What could it be?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you saw Actaea rubra (red baneberry). Here are photos from Colorado, Connecticut, Wisconsin, California and Central Washington. Sometimes they have white berries instead of red ones. If this isn't it, please let us know and we will try again.

 


Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of small tree in Florida
August 31, 2012 - I live in Port Saint Lucie, FL. We have a few trees (?) growing in our yard I would like to i.d. They seem to grow quickly have smooth leaves that grow opposite one another and the underside of the ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of shrubs in Austin neighborhood
September 30, 2013 - I have run across two beautiful bushes in our neighborhood. They have flowering branches that daisy-chain out like a fountain. No one can tell me what they are. They are located in front and on the ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a pink-flowering bush with flowers like sweet peas
June 29, 2012 - I have found a pink flowering small tree / bush that has picky branches kind of looks like sweet pea flowers and the leaves kind of look like shumac. Growing near the thick woods of northern MI
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine with fluffy-seeded pod
July 05, 2013 - I saw a fluffy seeded pod on our hike this morning. I have seen this vine before, but do not know the proper and scientific name of it. Its leaves appear to be opposite and heart shaped. Could it be a...
view the full question and answer

Need to identify hemp-like plant in Bastrop, TX.
June 09, 2014 - What is the large stalky, hemp-like plant that populates our creek bottoms and ditches here in Central Texas? It has large 5-6 in. lobed leaves, and a fibrous central stalk that gets up to 7 ft tall. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.