En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Need to identify a strange plant in my flowerbed

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 05, 2010

From: Thicket, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Need to identify a strange plant in my flowerbed
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a strange plant that I've called a weed in my flowerbed. It doesn't have many leaves but it has round white almost bulbs at the surface of the dirt. The "bulbs" look almost like a small onion and have the texture of a mushroom. Several of the "bulbs" have bloomed into a large orange fruit or flower. The bulbs that have bloomed into fruits have rotted and stink just like a rotten fruit. What in the world do I have growing in my flowerbed? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Generally, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify a plant from a written description, so we encourage people to send us images by following the instructions on the Plant Identification page. 

In the meantime you have given us some clues that will allow us to make a guess about the organism that is in your flower bed. Mr. Smarty Plants is thinking that the mystery plant might be a mushroom ("toadstool"). Since the focus of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is on native flowering plants, few of us are  well versed in fungi. The fungi at one time were considered to be part of the plant kingdom (Kingdom Plantae), but now they have a kingdom of their own (Kingdom Fungi), and the people who study them are called Mycologists.

I would guess that the orange structure you described is not a flower, but is called a fruiting body that produces spores. The orange color suggests that it could be in the genus Amanita which contains several species that are toxic, so be careful when you handle it.  Another possibility is that it's a member of the fungus family, Phallaceae, known as Stinkhorn fungi.  Many members of this family are also orange and have growth structures that could be the "bulbs" you described.

I'm including this site from the Missouri Department of of Conservation so that you can compare pictures of Amanita with your specimen and learn more about the toxic properties of the genus. Take a look at this site at  MykoWeb for many more pictures.

For help closer to home, contact the folks at the office of the Gulf States Mycological Society  in nearby Newton, TX.

If it doesn't turn out to be a mushroom, we'll be awaiting your photos for another try.

 

 

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
June 27, 2008 - A friend brought back pictures of plants from a recent trip which included the center. It didn't have an identification sign on it and no one was around at that moment for him to ask. I can send th...
view the full question and answer

Mystery fast-growing plant with the honeysuckle
April 05, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We have a section of honeysuckle, then a section of this 4 foot, bright, hairy green leafed, thorn bush that seems to be blooming/growing faster than the honeysuckle. Then a sectio...
view the full question and answer

Pictures to Mr. Smarty Plants from Bay Point CA
October 17, 2013 - Is there any way to send you a picture of my Mulberry tree, the Jade and the Spider Plants that are growing in my back yard so you can see what I'm talking about.
view the full question and answer

Identifiation of Castela erecta ssp. texana as armagosa
June 27, 2007 - I am reading a document that includes the name Armagosa in a list of plants identified in a south Texas (Maverick Co.) vegetation analysis(shrub/sub-shrub layer). Unfortunately the list of species di...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
March 11, 2009 - Hello. I don't know if this is a North American native plant, but here's my question: I have a soft, low groundcover that looks like a miniature version of Foxtail Fern. Lowe's folks suggested it m...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center