En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Seed pod of Proboscidea louisianica (Deveil's claw) in New Mexico
August 30, 2014 - I found the most amazing seed pods of the devil's claw right here in Albuquerque. I thought it was a wood skeleton of a pterodactyl (flying dinosaur, I believe), but heard it's a devil's claw. Ok...
view the full question and answer

Orange-flowered bush on Wildflower Center grounds
April 19, 2015 - What is the orange colored bush like Sphaeralcea blooming right now. It is in one of the planted gardens. I could find no name plate.
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Richardson TX
May 24, 2014 - Need to send a pic for id.
view the full question and answer

Houseplant identification
October 15, 2014 - Had a houseplant with leaves that were green on the top and purplish on the bottom. The leaves were velvety to the touch. Would like to know what it was.
view the full question and answer

Identification of yellow blooming plants near Temple, Texas
November 07, 2011 - This question may be a challenge. We noticed fields of yellow blooming plants in the fields east of Temple. They appear to be about 4 inches tall. (we were on a bus and could not stop to look cl...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center