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?


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

Thursday - May 19, 2005

From: Baton Rouge, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Smarty Plants on Iris native to Louisiana
Answered by: Nan Hampton


A friend of mine has discovered white iris growing alongside of a swampy habitat in southeast Louisiana where there are blue, yellow and copper/red irises. We presume it is wild because it is in a nature preserve. We cannot find any information about the plant. She has photos; I do not. Do you know what this type iris is called?


There are four species of Iris native to Louisiana: 1) Zigzag Iris (Iris brevicaulis), 2) Copper Iris (Iris fulva), 3) Dixie Iris (Iris hexagona), and Great Blue Flag (Iris virginica). Any of these, as well as any other plant, can have a mutation that results in a flower without pigment. Most biochemical processes require multiple steps to change basic material into specialized compounds such as flower pigment. Each of these steps requires a protein catalyst--an enzyme. The plants gene's carry the information to make the enzymes. If there is a mutation in one of these genes, the enzyme doesn't work properly and the pigment can't be formed; thus, an albino, or white, flower results. The Species Iris Group of North America (SIGNA) web page indicates that both I. brevicaulis and I. hexagona have rare white forms. The white iris you saw could potentially be any of the four species given above; but, without a picture for us to see, it isn't possible to tell which one.

More Wildflowers Questions

Green thread-Thelesperman filifolium
May 13, 2007 - Looking for information on a wild flower called green thread. Can you tell us the actual name or any information about this flower.
view the full question and answer

Weed killer and bluebonnets in Angleton, TX
March 18, 2010 - Is there a way to weed my yard with weed killer and not harm my bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Visit Texas to see the Bluebonnets
March 14, 2004 - When is a good time to visit Texas to see the Bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for hill with erosion in San Carlos, CA
September 22, 2012 - What wildflowers would you suggest for our hills that have erosion, low ground cover in San Carlos, California?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets and the law
March 14, 2004 - Is it illegal to pick Bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center