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

The most common wildflower in the United States
July 29, 2014 - What is the most common wildflower in the United States?
view the full question and answer

Identity of tree in Grant AL
November 26, 2009 - What is the name of the tree in N.E. Alabama that has a big green heart shaped leaf in Nov. with clusters or nuts & blonde small nuts the size of a pea . And deer are eating the small blonde nut in No...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant responsible for thorns in dogs' fur
October 02, 2009 - Do you know of a plant or bush that has very small, very thin triangle shaped thorn? My dogs have been coming in with these in their fur and I want to get rid of the plant/bush they are coming from.
view the full question and answer

Identification of cucumber-like plant with red fruit
July 01, 2012 - Hi; My name is Peter, live in Lewisville. When I walked through a park trail last year, I noticed a very strange vine described as the following: It is vine with leaves and stems (size and shape) lo...
view the full question and answer

Weird-looking rootless plant, perhaps a fungus
August 23, 2008 - While out it my backyard (i.e. the Black Hills of South Dakota), I spotted a weird-looking rootless plant (I think it may be a fungus) growing beneath the Ponderosa Pines. It was the only one in the a...
view the full question and answer

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