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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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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.

 
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Sunday - April 26, 2009

From: Edwardsburg, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My brother in law just bought a parcel of land that is bespeckled with shrubs we cannot identify. The land is located in south west Michigan. It is zoned agricultural. Due to the fact that it is early spring I cannot describe any leaves. However, it has smooth reddish colored thorny stems. At first I thought it to be roses. It also produces some sort of seed pod? that is round, empty, yellow in color and approximately the size of cherry tomatoes. These plants may have been planted there as they appear to be growing in rows and columns. However the sizes vary enough that I am puzzled as to whether or not they are native.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants agrees that if your plants do appear in rows/columns, they are likely to be native or non-native agricultural plants such as raspberries or blackberries, or perhaps roses.  Looking through the native shrubs in Michigan Mr. Smarty Plants found 11 native roses and 26 native species of Rubus (blackberries, raspberries, etc.), but your description doesn't really sound like these and there weren't any other obvious likely candidates with thorns.  We are very happy to try to identify your plants, but I think we are going to need photographs to do so.  Please wait until they have leaves to photograph them.  Then, take photos of the entire plant, closeup of the leaves and, if possible, take photos of the flowers as well. Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read the instructions on submitting photos for identification.
 

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