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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 02, 2006

From: Cypress, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Non-native tropical Butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera) in Houston
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

HOWDY . . . Miss Smarty Plants !!! I am trying to identify one of the most intriguing, unusual & beautiful vines that I have ever seen. I encountered this vine at the home of an 87 year old widow living in The Heights (just North of downtown Houston). The vine itself grew along her chain-link fence, for a total length of around 15 feet. It was lush yellow-green in coloration. The most identifiable characteristic of this vine . . . is its seed . . . they are protected (?) transported (?) by what I can only describe as looking exactly like "butterfly" wings. These butterfly wing "flowers"(?) are bright yellow green during the summer growth period . . . but turn the most brilliant shade of yellow in the fall. I have several of the seeds and have given them to friends who attempt to grow a vine from them . . . to no avail. I am trying to germinate five (5) of the seeds now by cold stratifying them for 7 days . . . we'll see what happens !!! This is about all that I know of the plant, as she simply referred to the vine as her "Butterfly" vine. The only "flower" that I saw on this plant were the aforementioned "woody" wings surrounding the seed . . . think of a butterfly and you've got the picture. The "abdomen" would be the seed . . . The "wings" are about the size of a medium sized butterfly . . . with very orchid-like characteristics, in appearances only . . . its not a "flower" in the true sense of the word. Have you ever heard of such a vine or am I daydreaming ???

ANSWER:

You aren't daydreaming, your vine is Butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera). It is native to Mexico (Baja California). There are more pictures on the Desert Tropicals and the Top Tropicals web pages.
 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Adding Wildflowers to Corpus Christi
May 20, 2012 - I have a dry sandy yard, full sun in Corpus Christi with lot's of stickers mostly, want to transform to wildflowers. When should I plant, how should I prepare soil, should I dig out stickers? Which w...
view the full question and answer

Should Mexican milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) not be used to attract Monarch butterflies?
November 20, 2015 - Should I remove Asclepias curassavica (Mexican milkweed) in my garden for threat of OE parasitic protozoan threat to Monarch butterflies? Is this threat as widespread as Chronicle implies? I had great...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for East Texas school gardens
May 19, 2008 - I am a teacher in San Augustine, Texas (which is in the Eastern Pineywoods region). I have started an outdoor classroom/schoolyard habitat at our school. We are in the process of planning our plant ...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly garden from Buffalo, NY
February 20, 2014 - I'd like to replace the grass in my front yard with a native butterfly garden that will suit the larval and adult stages of butterflies in Western New York. The patch in question faces north and gets...
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