Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
7 ratings

Friday - July 17, 2009

From: New River, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: What is sage-like plant in New River AZ?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a sage like looking plant growing wild in my yard. I live in the Sonora Desert. Its leaves are purple and once a year in spring it will bloom small blooms that are lavender. It grows 2 to 3 and a half feet tall. It sort of spreads out rather than grows totally upwards-although it does grow upwards. I thought it was purple sage but after reading about purple sages they all have green leaves and bloom purple-hope you can help.

ANSWER:

The first plant that comes to mind from your description is Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), which has gray-green leaves, bright pink-lavender flowers that will bloom intermittently all year, 2 to 5 ft. tall. However, you said it was growing wild in your yard, and this USDA Plant Profile does not show it as being native to Arizona. This is not a member of the Salvia genus, not a true sage, but is often called "Texas Sage" or "Ranger Sage" in commercial trade. But not even the cultivars or selections of this plant that we could find information on have purple leaves and, again, they would not ordinarily be growing wild in Arizona.

Looking at the true sages, we found Salvia leucophylla (San Luis purple sage), but this plant is endemic to California, and doesn't look anything like your description. 

We would love to know what your plant is, but will need more information and a picture or pictures to help us identify it. Go to the Mr. Smarty Plants page on Plant Identification for instructions on how to submit pictures and descriptions to us for identifying.


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Salvia leucophylla

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identity of large, sunflower-like plant
November 13, 2011 - We are trying to figure out the identity of a large, sunflower-like plant. It is a perennial that sends out approximately 10-12 stalks about 10 feet high. It then starts to bloom with small sunflowe...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine in Louisiana
July 06, 2011 - I have two vines in my backyard. I've looked at pictures of each and they both keep coming up "virginia creeper." However, both are different. Neither causes an allergic reaction. One has leaflets ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 11, 2008 - Just after the last little rain we got, I noticed a small, inconspicuous plant in my front yard that was sprouting a structure that looks for all the world like a pitcher plant. It is not, however, an...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
May 07, 2008 - I have a plant growing in my yard that I would like to know what it is. It has two very different leaf types on the same plant. One set of leaves is thick and oval in shape, the others look very much ...
view the full question and answer

Mystery plant in private garden in Hutchinson MN
July 16, 2009 - I recently toured an amazing private garden. While touring the owner called her potted plant with purple clustered flowers something that sounds like 'pinsta'. Do you have any idea what it might ha...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.