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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

 

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