En EspaŅol

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
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

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

Identity of plant in South Carolina with tiny purple flowers
August 02, 2013 - I found a plant while walking my dogs. I live in South Carolina. The plant gets maybe a foot tall, has a square stem and the top of plant is a candelabra with timy purple flowers in it. What is this...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant with yellow flowers in Michigan.
July 14, 2009 - Would you know what this perennial is? The plant has a reddish colored stem, the leaves are long and narrow, approx 31/2 inches long, and 1/2 to 3/4 inch across. The buds are long approx 2 inches, a...
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird plants and Indian Hawthorn
May 13, 2008 - I live in The Woodlands in a new section of homes. I planted some hummingbird plants in full sun and they did ok last year for 4 months, then lost all their leaves and died when the winter came. At ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with green flowers
May 23, 2012 - Trying to identify a vine with 5-petaled ~1 cm dia green flowers (w/ barely perceptible white & black speckles). I have 3 photos I can send (showing flowers & leaves). The flower petals are almost...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 25, 2013 - Found a plant with tiny, white, fragrant flowers on spires by a lake near Fredericksburg, TX. Could you possibly identify it?
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