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

Identity of plant growing on deck
May 12, 2012 - I can't find the name of a plant that I had on my deck, it didn't come back this year. It was a bush like plant that grew wild, it bloomed May thru August with red small flowers. My deck gets full...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
May 29, 2009 - I have a plant that I always thought was poison ivy. This spring however I saw an unusual flower on several of these plants. Three leaves and the flower almost looks like a wilted calla lily, but is a...
view the full question and answer

Bulbs named exotica
September 01, 2008 - When I purchased some seed from a catalog I received some free bulbs called exotica which I planted.They have long green stems. I don't know what they are or what to do with them. Can I plant them ou...
view the full question and answer

Identification of purple flower near Ft. Worth
April 20, 2011 - I'm doing a Flower Project for my Biology class. My partner and I have found a flower that we cannot identify and neither can our teacher. I found it on Interstate 35 going through Ft. Worth, Texas. ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 25, 2009 - I found a low-growing plant with thick spoon shaped light green leaves. It was growing in the edged of a lawn, The leaves almost look like they have fine white hairs on them. It is very pretty, but wh...
view the full question and answer

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