Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Plant Identification
April 16, 2009 - I have a vine in my flowerbed that has three leaves and thorns and it looks like poison ivy. How can I tell if it is?
view the full question and answer

Is Tagetes lemmonii a Texas native?
July 15, 2008 - Is the Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) a native Texas plant?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
April 05, 2009 - Today I was at Woodlawn Gardens, home of Nelly Custis, granddaughter to George Washington. There was a flowering plant there that had green (yes green) bell shaped flowers and very dark green leaves....
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification in Montfort WI
June 15, 2010 - There is a small orange flower plant that grows wild along highways and in uncut yards in northwest Wisconsin--We are visiting in Siren, WI and have tried to dig some up and take home to SW WI. They d...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Parker County, Texas
June 14, 2011 - Hi. Growing alongside a country road, here in Parker County I photographed what I thought might be cardinal flowers. However, in searching books and on the net, I cannot find any quite like these. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.