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
1 rating

Thursday - May 20, 2010

From: La Grange Park, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Need help identifying a plant with lupine-like leaves in La Grange Park, IL
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I encountered a plant on a level area just above a creek bed (moist soil, sun to partial sun) at one of the three largest grasslands in Illinois. The specific site looked like it may have been a burn a year or two prior. It had leaves sort of like a lupine, with something like 13 leaves in a round wheel-like arrangement per stem, and a much larger plant than lupine, not to mention a completely different looking flower. Plant was probably about 3' high. Flower was like a mini corn cob, blooming from first 2 inches at bottom, but soon to go up the deep blue/purple "flowering stalk", which was about 4 to six inches long. Any idea what it was?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has found that it is very difficult if not impossible to identify a plant from a written description, but when you mentioned that it had Lupine-like leaves, Mr. Smarty Plants got to thinking that maybe you were looking at a Lupine. I went to our Native Plant Database page, scrolled down to the Narrow your Search box, and made the following selections: Illinois under State, Herb under Habit, and Perennial under Lifespan. I checked Part shade for Light Requirement, Dry for Soil Moisture and Purple for Bloom Color. This gave me a list of 40 plants that fit the criteria that I selected. Scrolling down the list, I came across Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine).

This plant has lupine-like leaves (7 -11 leaflets per whorl), has a size range of 1-3 feet, and the blooms are blue to purple. (images from google)

If this is not the plant you saw, and if you have pictures of the plant, go to the Plant Identification page and follow the directions for sending us images. When we get them, we'll give it another try.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Seed pod of Proboscidea louisianica (Deveil's claw) in New Mexico
August 30, 2014 - I found the most amazing seed pods of the devil's claw right here in Albuquerque. I thought it was a wood skeleton of a pterodactyl (flying dinosaur, I believe), but heard it's a devil's claw. Ok...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Crossville TN
July 12, 2009 - I live in Crossville TN and have found a common plant on hikes in the state park. It has long (1-1.5)narrow leaves that are green and deep red? What is it please?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 15, 2013 - I need help identifying a flower/plant. It has a long stem with a Flower at the top and small 2" green things that look like small bananas at the bottom.( But not Bananas) I open one up and it had s...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower in southeastern Pennsylvania
May 20, 2008 - I live in southeastern Pennsylvania and want to identify a wild flower that is common along small town and rural roads and highways. It is blooming now (Mid May), has a flower spike similar to a larks...
view the full question and answer

Spriranthes sp. blooming on rocky hilltop
November 13, 2015 - I am not sure if my previous question went thru, so I am submitting it again. How unusual is it to find a few blooming specimens of Spiranthes sp. on a rocky hilltop west of Loop 360 near Bee Caves R...
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