En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 08, 2009

From: Bordentown, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification--Mock Orange
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I "grew up" with what I was told was a "Mockorange Bush." I've been looking around to be able to try to identify what variety it was. To be specific, the one that I am familiar with had little basket like-reddish brown "fruit"(?) hanging on it, probably about 3/4" diameter. I don't think they were completely round, but little semi-hard, kind of flexible, (Like a basket would feel)petal like protrusions, coming from the center of the stem, and curling downward, kind of like a basket. I don't necessarily remember the white flowers that most of the Mockoranges have, but maybe it wasn't a Mockorange, although those little "fruits," might be construed as tiny oranges. I've never seen them on any pictures of Mockoranges that I've viewed. I always thought that the reason mine was called a Mockorange was because of those little "oranges." Any clue? Thank you very much for taking time to read this. Hope you had a nice break a week ago! (Vacation?) Jim Kiiffner

ANSWER:

You can see a drawing of the fruit of Philadelphus coronarius (Sweet mock orange), a non-native mock orange and the fruit of P. lewisii (Lewis' mock orange) , a native mock orange, in the USDA Plant Database plus a photo of the developing fruit of P. lewisii from Oregon State University and a photo of mature fruit from Virginia Tech.  Here are drawings of the fruits of P. caudatus and  P. tetragonus, two Asian species from Flora of China.  Here are drawings of P. serpyllifolius (p.133) and P. hitchcockianus, P. argenteus and P. microphyllus (p.134), and P. palmeri (p.135) in Trees and Shrubs of the Trans-Pecos and Adjacent Areas  by A. Michael Powell (University of Texas Press, 1998).  You can see a drawing of the fruit of P. grandiflorus on p.182 in  Minnesota Trees and Shrubs by Clements, Rosendahl and Butters (The University of Minnesota, 1912).  There is a drawing of the fruit (capsule) of P. ernestii (p. 371) in Rare Plants of Texas by Poole, Carr, Price, & Singhurst (Texas A&M University Press,2007).  I wasn't able to find drawings or photos of the other species of Philadelphus, but you can see that the various fruits in the pictures above resemble each other, but are also different from each other.  Perhaps one of the fruits in these pictures resembles the one your remember.  You can see photos (no fruits shown) of some of the native species of Philadelphus in our Native Plant Database and you can see more photos and distributions of native and introduced species of Philadelphus in the USDA Plants Database. By the way, most of the sources say that the fruits are inedible, but one source says that the fruit of P. microphyllus (Little-leaf mock orange) is edible and was formerly used as food.

There is a reference in NaturesPlants.com to two plants in other genera that have also been called by the common name of mock orange—Murraya paniculata (Mock orange) and Pittosporum tobira (Japanese mock orange or Japanese cheesewood)—but neither of these has fruit that sounds exactly like your description.  M. paniculata, however, certainly looks like a small elongate orange.

Thanks for asking about Mr. Smarty Plants' vacation.  Actually, it was a "working vacation" since Mr. Smarty Plants had to take a week off to try and catch up on answering all the questions 'he' receives.  'He's' still trying to catch up!


Philadelphus ernestii

Philadelphus hitchcockianus

Philadelphus inodorus

Philadelphus microphyllus

Philadelphus lewisii

 

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification from Griffin, GA
July 05, 2010 - We live in Georgia and we found a mystery plant growing next to our garage. It is a short tree with non-waxy, oblong, dark green leaves. The fruit or berries are not clustered and start out green but...
view the full question and answer

Learning to identify native plants in backyard
June 28, 2011 - Please let me know how a layman like myself can identify native plants in my backyard. I don't know the plant names and don't know if they are dicots or any other technical terms (that some websites...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
March 09, 2009 - green stemmed,whorled leaf,compound leaf, ovate shaped, hairy stemmed thing is fastly taking over my sandy rocked based soil cactus garden. what could it be? i bought my garden in florida
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Help with plant identification.
September 01, 2008 - We need help identifying a perennial in our backyard, which we assume is a native/wildflower, but might not be. It has yellow flowers with 5/6 petals (delicatea, starlike/about 1-1.5 inches across) a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center