En Español

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

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.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Monday - June 29, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: User Comments
Title: Question about Salvia coccinea photos in the Native Plant Database
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

A search for Salvia coccinea in the database resulted in some of the pictures showing frostweed crystals ('am assuming that is an error), as well as some white and bicolor pastel pink & white blooms. Can S. coccinea have that much variation in color?

ANSWER:

All of the photos you mention from our Native Plant Database are indeed Salvia coccinea (blood sage).  One of our experts, Joe Marcus, took the photos showing the ice crystals that do look like the ice crystals that form from the sap of Verbesina virginica (frostweed).  Here is what he says about them:

"I remember taking the picture and being very surprised at what I was seeing - and photographing.  I think it did the frostweed-y thing because the tops of the plants had recently been sheared and the stems were still alive and full of water.  In other words, the conditions under which the Salvia would produce the ice ribbons were very specific and very unusual.  I wanted to capture the evidence that it could happen - in rare circumstances - and that is what I did."
 
Also, although the majority of plants of the species have red blossoms, there are different color varieties of S. coccinea. The pink and white flowered one is a cultivar, but we're not sure which one.  The most common cultivar with flowers this color is one called 'Coral Nymph' (sometimes marketed as 'Cherry Blossom'), but there may also be other pink and white cultivars. 


Salvia coccinea

Salvia coccinea

Verbesina virginica

Verbesina virginica

Verbesina virginica

Salvia coccinea

Salvia coccinea

Salvia coccinea
 

More User Comments Questions

User's comment on nativity of Beggar's Lice from Austin
May 20, 2014 - I think you were off the mark telling somebody that "beggar's lice" is a Texas native. According to Wikipedia, Torilis arvensis is an invasive species native to Eurasia. Cheers!
view the full question and answer

Wrong photo in Native Plant Database
August 18, 2008 - The picture to the left of the information for Rudbeckia laciniata L. shows a plant with a dark center. This is not the Cutleaf Conflower with which I am familiar. What is it? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

True date for Earth Day
March 09, 2006 - My grandson asked me to verify the correct date for Earth Day 2006. Sites on the internet say (a) Earth Day USA is April 22, 2006. (b) International Earth Day is M...
view the full question and answer

Agarita suggestion for Houston area
March 05, 2013 - Another possible plant for the following question is agarita. The question: "Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Ro...
view the full question and answer

Thank you Mr. Smarty Plants
January 28, 2009 - Hi, this is a note of thanks, powerful thanks, for your answer to my question about carolina laurel. Our disappointment was more than made up for by your recommendation to check out OSU's wonderful ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center