En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

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

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of mystery tree in Huntington Beach, CA
March 25, 2015 - Have a "tree" that has grown from about 18" tall to about 10' tall in a little over a years time. It has a central trunk that is about 3/4" in diameter at it's largest. It has short thin branch...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant that smells like dill in California
June 30, 2013 - Whenever I drive over the Sonoma County, CA coastal range and to the beach (usually Bodega) as you get closer to the ocean the air is scented not just with the wonderful smell of the sea, but also of ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant in Florida with red fruit like a small tomato
September 03, 2012 - It looks like a small tomato but it isn't. It has a bunch of flakey seeds on the inside, which are a light brown in color. The outside is red, and I think it starts out growing green and also white....
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
December 15, 2008 - I am looking for the name of the plant that looks like the spider plant but can survive the cold weather of the northeast. It looks just like the indoor spider plant but it does not produce offshoots....
view the full question and answer

Poison ivy in Hilliard OH?
June 15, 2009 - I found a plant with five jagged leaves growing close to the ground in the trees of Ohio. Is this poison ivy or a similar plant?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center