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
2 ratings

Thursday - October 29, 2009

From: Pensacola, FL
Region: Select Region
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: ID of plant that looks like a pine cone?
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have a plant that i was told it was a Pine Cone plant. When it blooms it looks just like a pine cone. but i can't fine anything on it.


With few exceptions, Mr. Smarty Plants has to ask his patrons to submit plant ID requests along with digital images to Plant Identification at Ask Mr. Smarty Plants.  It is a very rare occasion that he can identify a plant based on a written description alone.  Happily, this may be one of those rare ocassions!

Very few plants look "just like a pine cone."  In fact, we can think of only one in Florida that really fits that description well, Conopholis americana (American cancer-root).  Also known as Squawroot or Bear Corn, this native species can be found in woodlands throughout eastern North America.  Like many other members of its family, Orobanchaceae, Conopholis americana has no chlorophyll.  Thus, it has no green color and has no capacity to make its own food.  It thrives by parasitizing the roots of oak trees.

Here are links with more information from Wikipedia, The University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, Vanderbilt Bioimages, and the Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium.


More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
June 12, 2014 - We live in Magnolia TX and have a shrub we can't identify. It's evergreen and has waxy leaves with a serrated edge that are about an inch in length. They have pink flowers and they grow to ab...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant from Tennessee
June 06, 2011 - I was trying to find the identity of a plant my Grandmother grew around her house in West Tennessee. It was a nonflowering plant, about 12-24 in tall, had thornless leaves similar in shape to holly l...
view the full question and answer

Differentiating between Spiraea betulifolia and Spiraea japonica
April 12, 2005 - How can I tell the difference between Spiraea betulifolia var. corymbosa (an imperiled species) and Spiraea japonica (an invasive species) in the wild? They both seem to be the same size, color, habi...
view the full question and answer

Do monarchs like Cynachum laeve in Austin, TX?
May 29, 2012 - I have found what I believe is Honeyvine (Cynanchum laeve) growing in my yard here in Austin. I tried using the LBJWC plant data base and could not find it. I also found the plant with a diff...
view the full question and answer

Plant similar to painted buckeye in Stewart Co., GA
February 26, 2011 - My neighbor said that she saw a plant in Providence Canyon in Stewart Co, GA that was similar to the painted buckeye, but bloomed later in the summer. Do you know of this plant?
view the full question and answer

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