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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 16, 2009

From: Hutchinson, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Mystery plant in private garden in Hutchinson MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 have been? Pinsta does not come up in a Google search.

ANSWER:

The closest we can come to that name and that description is Lanceolata penta. It does come in purple blooms, as you can see from this page of Images from Google. It is non-native to North America, rather originating in Africa. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use and preservation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Since we would not have it in our Native Plant Database, you can get more information on Lanceolata penta from this Floridata site. That site does mention that the Penta acts as a perennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 11, but in Zone 4a, where McCloud County is located, and where average annual minimum temperatures are -30 to -25 deg F, it would have to be treated as a summer annual, or raised in a greenhouse. 

Ordinarily, in plant identification questions, we ask that a picture be submitted, but since the plant you saw was in a private garden, you may not have had the opportunity to get a picture. If you did, and you do not think this plant was a Penta, go to our instructions page on Plant Identification, and submit a photo; we'll try to identify it. 

 

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