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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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Monday - August 11, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Just after the last little rain we got, I noticed a small, inconspicuous plant in my front yard that was sprouting a structure that looks for all the world like a pitcher plant. It is not, however, anything like the texas native, pale pitcher plant, Sarracenia alata. I'm familiar with Napenthes pitcher plants, having spent some time in Southeast Asia. It was more like that, in that the pitcher grew out of a more regular looking plant, but still different from anything I've seen. This inflorescence(?) was probably about 3" long total, with a small bulbous vessel at the bottom, a long, tall, slender neck, and at the mouth of the pitcher, the back transitioned into an almost vertical hood that fanned out like a cobra to a spathe shaped "cap" which was almost black with strikingly contrasting white/cream patches, then imediately narrowed down and ended in a long slender grass-blade like structure. I have pictures, email me if you want to see them. The pitcher thingie was much bigger than the plant it grew off of. What the heck is it?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants loves these plant identification questions and this one is particulary intriguing! You haven't stumped our expert, Joe Marcus, however. He thinks that this is Aristolochia erecta (swanflower). Here is another set of photographs. If we haven't 'nailed' it, please send us your photos and we will give it another try. Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read instructions (under "Plant Identification" for submitting photos.

 


Aristolochia erecta

Aristolochia erecta

Aristolochia erecta

 

 

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