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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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Saturday - April 03, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native hollyhock in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our hollyhocks develop small yellow spots on the leaves; these eventually spread into little swellings on the underside; I think of them as lesions. They spread and the leaf turns brown and shrivels up. Can you give me any information that would assist?

ANSWER:

There is one hollyhock native to North America, Iliamna rivularis (streambank wild hollyhock), but it does not grow in Texas. It seems more likely that what you have is Alcea rosea, Hollyhock,  thought to have originated in Asia, but now so hybridized that it is only found in cultivation, not as a wildflower. Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown, the cultivated form of hollyhock would be out of our area of expertise. 

Here is an article on Alcea rosea from Michigan State University Extension, which mentions the plant is subject to several diseases. 

 

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