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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.

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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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Thursday - September 04, 2008

From: Waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Shrubs
Title: Information on Betonyleaf thoroughwort
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Sean Watson

QUESTION:

I purchased Conoclinium betonicifolium (Betonyleaf thoroughwort) at the spring 2008 LBJ WC plant sale. I've not been able to find much information on the plant in the typical places, including the Wildflower Center's plant database (the entry has no photos nor narrative info on the plant). I like it very much and would like to learn more about it. What can you tell me about its native distribution, habitat, bloom period, water requirements, typical height and width, etc?

ANSWER:

We agree with you that there is not much information out there on  Conoclinium betonicifolium (betonyleaf thoroughwort). This is probably because it has been introduced to cultivation fairly recently. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Nursery Manager Sean Watson came to our rescue with this information:

"It blooms from late spring to frost, off and on in the summer, with heavier blooming in the fall and spring. Its native range is along the coast in South Texas from Brownsville to just north of Corpus Christi. It usually grows in sandier soil, but seems to be one of those species that is adaptable to clay soils. It ranges from 2 to 3 feet in height, and 3 to 4 feet in width, once it gets going. It has moderate water requirements. In its native range it gets much less rain than we do here in Austin, so, once established, it should take very little water as long as we have regular rains. It seems to volunteer readily from seed. Nice butterfly plant, like the other mistflowers. Queens love it."

Since Sean frequently goes out on plant scouting trips, looking for plants native to Texas not yet being cultivated, brings back cuttings and seeds, and propagates them in our Plant Nursery, he is probably the best possible authority. 

 

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