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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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Wednesday - May 13, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Every spring I have pink evening primroses blooming near the curb where the soil is very poor - lots of clay, very dry. Along with the pink evening primroses, there is a vine that can spread about three or four feet along the ground, with leaves that look just like the pink evening primroses, but the vine has small clumps of five white flowers with four tiny white petals each, surrounding a small bulge. They are blooming now, in my northern Travis county yard. I have no digital camera, and cannot find any similar image on the internet. - - - - - - What is the name of this mystery plant?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants can't find a plant that fits your description exactly, but here are some possibilities:

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) has leaves that are similar to Oenothera speciosa (pink primrose) and acts somewhat vine-like even though it isn't a vine.

Convolvulus equitans (Texas bindweed) is a vine with leaves that are similar but it has five fused white petals.

Cynanchum barbigerum (bearded swallow-wort) is a vine and has small white flowers with four petals, but leaves are not like pink primrose.

Evolvulus sericeus (silver dwarf morning-glory) isn't a vine, but can look vinelike, but has small white flowers that have fused petals and leaves don't look like those of the primrose.

Oenothera pallida (pale evening-primrose) leaves are similar, but it isn't a vine and the four-petaled white flowers are large.

Oenothera speciosa (pink primrose) also has white populations.

Stenaria nigricans var. nigricans (diamondflowers) has small white flowers with 4 petals, but isn't a vine and doesn't have leaves that look like those of the primrose.

If none of these happen to be your vine, a photo would certainly help us identify what you have.  I know you said you don't have a digital camera, but perhaps you have a friend who has one who would take a photo for you.  If so, please send us photos and we will have a much better chance of identifying your vine.   For instructions on submitting photos, please visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page.


Phyla nodiflora

Phyla nodiflora

Oenothera speciosa

Convolvulus equitans

Cynanchum barbigerum

Evolvulus sericeus

Oenothera pallida

Oenothera speciosa

Stenaria nigricans var. nigricans

Stenaria nigricans var. nigricans

 

 

 

 

 



 

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