En Español

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 20, 2010

From: Chicago, IL
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to identify a flowering plant (usually potted) that is commonly seen around homes in Phoenix, AZ. It has a long (1 to 1.5 ft) bare woody stem topped by an umbel of perhaps 15-20 small reddish bell-shaped flowers that hang down. The bells open downward. The flowers are perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 inches long and 1/4 to 3/8/inches across. I don't believe that there are any thorns, so it's probably not considered a cactus.

ANSWER:

This really sounds like a non-native plant, especially since you see it mostly in a container.  Our expertise and focus here at the Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America.  The only North American/Arizona native plants that sound vaguely like your description are the following:

Penstemon eatonii (firecracker penstemon)

Penstemon barbatus ssp. torreyi (Torrey's penstemon)

Penstemon barbatus (beardlip penstemon)

You need to realize that identifying plants from descriptions alone is difficult, if not impossible, to do. If none of the plants that we have suggested is the plant you have seen, we would be very happy to give your plant a try if you will send us photos.  Please visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Here are photos of the plants above from our Image Gallery:


Penstemon barbatus

Penstemon barbatus ssp. torreyi

Penstemon eatonii

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Removing non-native plants appearing in Austin in early spring
March 14, 2012 - In order to know which plants to keep and which to remove, is there a source to look up and identify common non-native plants that are seen in Austin about this time of the year (late winter, early Sp...
view the full question and answer

Identifcation of fragrant, white camellia-like flower
August 04, 2008 - My friend describes a beautiful, unusual smelling flower. It was a white camellia-like bloom, but was not a camellia. It was flowering in June or July in the Alabama and Mississippi region. It had ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 22, 2011 - I have a rather large berry growing on a tree-like bush in my back yard here in Williamsville Vermont, I've never seen anything like it! I have a picture.
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing non-native Wisteria from Austin
June 25, 2012 - How do I distinguish a native wisteria from a non-native wisteria?
view the full question and answer

Identification of purple flower near Ft. Worth
April 20, 2011 - I'm doing a Flower Project for my Biology class. My partner and I have found a flower that we cannot identify and neither can our teacher. I found it on Interstate 35 going through Ft. Worth, Texas. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center