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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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Sunday - May 16, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Sombrerito Mexicano
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

Ratibida columnifera, almost universally called Mexican hat in English, is native to Texas and also to parts of Mexico, which leads me to wonder what the vernacular name is in Mexican Spanish. Google tells me that "sombrerito Mexicano" (which looks suspiciously like it might be translated from English) is one common name, but there weren't so many hits that I am confident that it is _the_ normal common name in Mexico (if there is one.) Does Sr. or Sra. Smarty Pants have a more definitive answer?

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, our trusty source for Spanish common names, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System does not list any for Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower). Sr. Smarty Plants agrees that sombrerito Mexicano is a lackluster attempt to translate the most common English common name, Mexican hat, into Spanish. Unlike scientific names, there are no rules governing the application of common names so feel free to use sombrerito Mexicano.
 

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