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

Differences between Lantana urticoides and Lantana camara
July 13, 2012 - I have found an orange variety of lantana growning in several location in Jefferson County. Is there any way I can tell for sure if it is L. camara or the native L. urticoides?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Keller TX
March 18, 2009 - I'm trying to i.d. a wildflower found in Keller, Tx. It is about 8 in. tall, single upright stem with narrow, slender leaves up the stem, several red blooms at top of stem about 1 inch wide, 5 petals...
view the full question and answer

Want to identify thorny vines growing in Charlotte Hall, MD
April 25, 2013 - I have vines with thorns growing in my wood, vining around the trees and killing them. It grows and vines go up trees of any height all the way to the top. It has green pointy leaves. If it doesn't...
view the full question and answer

Pink flower in South Carolina, perhaps poisonous
July 09, 2008 - I saw a beautiful plant while touring Charleston, SC. I do not remember the name - the tour guide talked about a long time ago women giving it to their husband's in tea (maybe?) to kill them. Of co...
view the full question and answer

Identity of dandelion-like weed in Utah
December 16, 2008 - What is the over-sized dandelion looking weed in utah that you can blow the seeds just like a dandelion?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center