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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Monday - November 30, 2009

From: Santa Clara, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Purple wildflowers near Lake Tahoe
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have been tasked with a challenge to find the plant that is "dark purple wild flowers at Lake Tahoe and are a magnificent thing to see in the fall. Interestingly, these wild mountain lake flowers were imported from India, are of the same species---one kind---and its manifestation of color and type is simply indicative of its ecology, where it makes its 'living'." I have researched for days, but I am stuck: have you any idea?

ANSWER:

Well, that is a challenge!

First of all, our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America. You can do a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and choose 'California' from Select State or Province and 'Purple' from Bloom Color and get a list of over 300 native plants in California that fit that description.  If you NARROW YOUR SEARCH by choosing 'September', 'October' and 'November' from Bloom Time, the number of plants in the list is fewer than 60. Of course, California is a very large state and not all those would grow  near Tahoe. Also, you include a quote from some source that says that this is an import from India.  If it really is a plant that isn't native to North America, it won't appear in our Native Plant Database.  Additionally, if it is a recent import and hasn't naturalized, we likely won't be able to help with its identification either.  However, it might help if we knew the origin and the date of the quote you include.  Is it from a literary source?  Is there more to the description—any mention of size of the plant and whether it grew near the lake or high in the mountains?  It would help us even more if you have a photograph. If you do, please visit our Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read the instructions for submitting your photos for identification. Mr. Smarty Plants loves identifying plants, but I'm afraid you need to furnish us with a little more information for us to do that.

 

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