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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

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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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!

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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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

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