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

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Monday - October 10, 2005

From: Baton Rouge, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Native and non-native Wandering Jew and Four o Clocks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for information on 2 separate plants in my yard. The names that people have given me on what they are is as follows: Wondering Jew Four O'Clock

ANSWER:

There are at least three plants known as Wandering Jew. They are Tradescantia zebrina, T. fluminensis, and T. pallida. Only T. pallida is reported to be native to the U.S. (Louisiana and Florida). The others have been introduced from Central and South America.

There are several plants that have the common name of Four O'Clock. Here are the ones that are native to Louisiana: Mirabilis nyctaginea and M. albida. Since it is in your garden I suspect it is M. jalapa, a native of South America that is sold in nurseries and has now become naturalized over much of the eastern and southwestern U.S. There are several color varieties available from nurseries.
 

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