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
1 rating

Monday - July 20, 2009

From: Beltzville, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: ID of odd woodland plant in PA?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Found in the woods in Eastern Pennsylvania. It is about 8 inches tall and were found in clusters of 3 to 10. They are clear. with pink and black tops. Similar to a flower, but snaps like a fungus. What is it?

ANSWER:

It is rare that we are able to identify a plant from a description alone.  This might be one of those rare cases.  We think your mystery plant is Monotropa uniflora (Indianpipe), a parasitic vascular plant.  Technically, it's a myco-heterotroph, a plant that uses a fungus as sort of a go-between to get its needed nutrients from host plants.  Indian pipes contain no chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize -- thus the white coloration of the plant.


Monotropa uniflora

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
April 02, 2012 - I found a plant on a small island about the size of a hand. It is spring so plant is just coming out of the ground. It is wrapped around a bulb/flower light color with little knobs on it. The outsi...
view the full question and answer

Ivy with holes in its leaves
May 31, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Pants, Please help me, I was given an ivy (origin unknown). It is peculiar. It has holes in the leaves, not from bugs or from bacteria, etc. It is natural, the holes develop in some type...
view the full question and answer

Orange-flowered bush on Wildflower Center grounds
April 19, 2015 - What is the orange colored bush like Sphaeralcea blooming right now. It is in one of the planted gardens. I could find no name plate.
view the full question and answer

Identification of gourd plant growing in central California
August 10, 2012 - I am not sure if this flowering plant is native to North America. It is found in dry land grazing fields at about 100 feet in elevation in central California. It is large--2-6 feet across with a sti...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a low raspberry-like plant in New Brunswick
July 09, 2011 - I am searching for a plant I found last year while walking in the woods in early summer. It was a low plant, much like a raspberry, but not on thorny growth and close to the ground. Seems to be on new...
view the full question and answer

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