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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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Thursday - August 06, 2009

From: Burleson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Are kidney wood and beebrush related from Burleson TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a kidneywood tree from a nursery. I also have a Beebrush plant. My reference on Beebrush designates it as kidneywood. My two plants look similar but somewhat different. I am confused. Are they cousins?


Ah, the Curse of the Common Name strikes again. Common names can be the same for two or three totally unrelated plants, or the same plant may have two or three common names. That is why we try to refer to everything by its scientific name, and our Native Plant Database is arranged by scientific name; however, you can also search on a common name, which is what we did.

First, Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood), member of the Fabaceae (pea) family. Its common names are Texas kidneywood, kidneywood and bee-brush, along with probably others.

Aloysia gratissima (whitebrush), member of the Verbenaceae (verbena) family. Common names bee-brush, beebrush, common bee-brush, privet lippia, white-brush, whitebrush. 

Now you understand why botanists get glassy-eyed sometimes. You can follow the above plant links to the webpage on each individual plant to learn their differences, and we will give you some pictures from our Native Plant Database Image Gallery. Neither plant is native to the Johnson County area, but rather to Central Texas, South Texas and the Big Bend Area.

Eysenhardtia texana

Eysenhardtia texana

Eysenhardtia texana

Eysenhardtia texana

Aloysia gratissima

Aloysia gratissima

Aloysia gratissima

Aloysia gratissima





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