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
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

Identity of bulbs from digging in an anthole
June 13, 2012 - I was digging in an ant hole and it collapsed and as I dug it out, I found around 50 white bulbs that did not have a smell or roots. They resembled onion bulbs. I have a picture of these and they are...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant in Illinois
August 13, 2007 - I've found a plant that I cannot identify. The plant is is very short, 2 inches tall maybe, and has very fragile, thin leaves and stem. The leaves about 1" long, are pinnate, with about 20 leaflets ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of thorny shrub in Tennessee
October 03, 2013 - I have a mid to dark green thorny type bush growing on my land in Cosby, Tennessee. I am originaly from NJ and I have never seen it before. The stalk is varigated and the thorns are plentiful and very...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine in Tennessee
January 06, 2012 - I have this vine that grows in my backyard and on the vine there are green balls about half the size of a hedge apple and inside balls are a bunch of seeds. The deer love to eat these. Do you know wha...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub/small tree with small purple fruit
July 31, 2013 - Hi! I have a tree/bush that has come up on its own in the backyard. This year it set what looks like small purple plums. Is there any chance that they might be poisonous?
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