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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 24, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: What is Carolina Jessamine in San Antonio?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Okay, so if Gelsemium sempervirens is the one photographed by Joe Marcus in the "Explore Plants" section, then what is the actual name of the plant that is in every other yard in San Antonio, widely used as a hedge and commonly called nothing other than "Carolina Jessamine"? It has yellow flowers every spring, is home to many sparrows and smaller birds, is quite hardy and becomes a woody shrub up to 7-8 feet tall, is evergreen but with fewer leaves in winter, and propagates mostly where the branches root in the ground. Thanks!


Well, that sure sounds like an appropriate description of Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower); looks like it, too. There are almost always several common names for the plants in our Native Plant Database. If you follow the link above, you will see that "Carolina jessamine" is one of the common names for this one. Common names are always tripping Mr Smarty Plants up. What is called by one name in one part of the country is called something else in another part, or across the street. And the same common name can be assigned to totally unrelated plants. The plant is native to Texas, although more often found growing wild in the eastern part of the state.


And if Joe Marcus took that picture and identified that plant, you can trust me, that's what it is. He is not only our primo photographer but a plant identifier not to be messed with. 

Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens




More Plant Identification Questions

Unknown blue flower growing in New Boston, TX
May 18, 2013 - A light blue wildflower, similar to a cosmos, appeared in one of my beds this spring. I've never grown this flower and would like to identify it. The flower also has similarities to a passion flower...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Jewel of the Nile
June 04, 2005 - My husband and I just returned from a short trip to San Francisco. While on a bus tour that took us to the Twin Peaks area, we saw some beautiful purple flowers growing on the hillside. Our tour guid...
view the full question and answer

Florida hanging vine with occasional red tongue-like leaves
December 01, 2011 - I live in south Florida and I used to grow a hanging vine that had green slender leaves and an occasional red leaf that looked like a tongue that protruded horizontally from the plant. do you know wha...
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 plant known as mosquito plant (Agastache cana)
October 11, 2007 - I received some seeds from an annual plant that came from Bowie, Tx. It has square stems, like mint plants, medium size leaves turns purple when in the sun and had a strong odor when brushed against. ...
view the full question and answer

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