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?


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
2 ratings

Tuesday - June 09, 2009

From: Bucyrus, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Fragrant night blooming plant
Answered by: Nan Hampton


My Grandmother use to have a night fragrant night blooming plant that she referred to as "baby Jesus being born" when it bloomed. Are you familiar with anything of this nature?


Mr. Smarty Plants didn't find a plant with the exact name your grandmother used but here is one possibility—Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Night blooming cereus, Dutchman's pipe cactus, Queen of the Night). A couple of people commenting on this plant referred to it as "Babe in the Manger."  I found other references to that name associated with Epiphyllum oxypetalum on several plant forums as well.  You can search on the linked page given above for "Babe in the Manger" or scroll down to the entries by NEVADASKIDS or lindas43.  The first entry says her mother called it that because the bloom looks like "Baby Jesus in the Manger with the star at his feet."  Epiphylllum oxypetalum is a member of the Family Cactaceae (Cactus Family) and is a native of Mexico and Central America.  It does bloom at night and is fragrant.   Here are more photos.  Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you need to have a pretty good imagination to see the baby Jesus in the center of the flower.





More Plant Identification Questions

What is the plant called wingspan?
September 21, 2014 - I have a lot of environmental allergies and saw a positive result for "wingspan" yet I cannot find ANY information online about that particular plant. I was told it's "tumbleweed" by the medical ...
view the full question and answer

Orange and fuschia flowers on bushes in Maine
July 01, 2008 - I recently visited Portland,ME from end of May to the second week in June. many of the homes had these beautiful flowering bushes next to the houses. The flowers grew in clusters similar to hydrangeas...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant responsible for thorns in dogs' fur
October 02, 2009 - Do you know of a plant or bush that has very small, very thin triangle shaped thorn? My dogs have been coming in with these in their fur and I want to get rid of the plant/bush they are coming from.
view the full question and answer

Possible identification of Hydrocotyle bonariensis
July 01, 2007 - I went to Pedra Island two years ago I saw a plant that grew around the beach. It has a perfectly round leaf that has the stem in the middle of the back side of the leaf. It has small yellow flowers. ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with seed heads like goat head
February 17, 2013 - Sir, I collected some bizarre seed heads from some rough weeds around a stock tank in SE New Mexico. They resemble goat heads, with two long curving horns. I have photos but couldn't figure out how ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center