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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

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!

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Saturday - June 11, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Smarty Plants on Parkinsonia aculeata
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the name of the tall shrub I see growing wild around Austin that is delicate, with thin stems and branches, and lacy, with multiple leaves, and yellow flowers? It looks lovely growing in a mass on the south slope of Barton Creek Mall. Someone told me it is huisache, but I find out now it is not. Have I given you enough information to know what I am talking about? Thanks so much.

ANSWER:

What you have seen is Retama (Parkinsonia aculeata). Some of its other common names are Paloverde, Crown-of-thorns, Jerusalem-thorn, and others. You can read a really good description of it in Robert A. Vines "Trees of Central Texas", 1984. Austin: University of Texas Press, which you might find at your local library. Here are some other web sites that describe the plant: Floridata Marketplace and TAMU Aggie Horticulture.
 

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