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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

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 - December 10, 2009

From: Summerdale, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Bulb identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My pinecone ginger (Zingiber zerumbet), my white ginger (Hedychium coronarium) and my cana lilly roots were all accidently put in the same box and now I can't tell which is which. Is there some sort of "guide to roots"?

ANSWER:

The expertise and focus of the Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America.  Of the three plants you name, Zingiber zerumbet (pinecone ginger) is native to southeast Asia and Hedychium coronarium (white ginger) is native to India.  There are two cannas that are native to North America, Canna flaccida (bandanna of the Everglades) and Canna glauca (maraca amarilla); but I would guess you probably have Canna indica (Indian shot), native to tropical Central and South America or Canna x generalis (canna lily), a hybrid of C. indica and C. flaccida.   Generally, we aren't able to help much with non-native plant questions, but perhaps we can offer some sources that can help you.  You might try the International Bulb Society's Bulb Identification Clinic.  You can take photos of your different bulbs and submit your photos and ask the experts there to identify which is which—or you can see photos of the bulbs of the pinecone ginger and white ginger at Buried Treasures.  Click on "more details" by the plant's photo to find the photo of the bulb. If you figure out those two, then by process of elimination the other bulbs should be your canna bulbs.  You can also Google "canna bulbs" and select "Images" and you will find that several photos appear.

 

 

 

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