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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 11, 2010

From: Birmigham, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr Smarty Pants.I hope you can help to save my sanity! I am a true believer in using native plantings, having a yard that is 99% native. I hope that fact provides me a little extra credit toward getting this probably non-native id question answered.for a neighbor who has asked me to help. She has a patch of about 13 of these plants growing in moist soil next to her foundation. We live in Birmingham, AL. Each plant is about 3-5 foot tall with a single stem arising from the ground. The leaves are huge (about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide)heart-shaped and toothed. Each has a solitary, umbrel shaped, deep purple flower on top. I picked a leaf to bring it in for closer inspection and it smells awful, like skunk cabbage. The leaves are hairy with the most obvious (pointy) hairs on the underside veins. The leaves are opposite one another along the main stem of the plant. The stem is greenish-purple. There are 2 small buds just opposite to where each leaf emerges from the main stem. The purple coloring runs into the leaf stems. Each leaf stem being about 4 inches long. The purple color also runs up into into the first 30% or so of the veins on the top of each leaf. Three main veins come out of the leaf stem into the leaf proper. The center vein goes all the way to the pointed tip of the heart-shaped leaf. The other 2 veins goes off to each side but do not terminate on the edge. There are additional veins running off the central middle vein. Any plant come to mind?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants applauds your dedication to native plants and your kindness towards your neighbor; but, unfortunately, that still doesn't make us experts in identifying non-native plants.  Our expertise is in plants native to North American and your description, although very detailed, doesn't bring any plant to mind.  I suggest that you take photographs of the plant in question and submit them to the UBC Botanical Garden's Plant Identification Forum.  They do an excellent job with non-native plants.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery perennial in Clearfield, PA
July 07, 2009 - I have a perennial growing in my flower garden. I didn't plant extra seeds and don't know what it is..it has palm like leaves and long thin stem. It grows tall, maybe about 10 inches from the ground...
view the full question and answer

Identification of possible wild plums thickets
May 19, 2008 - I have several "thickets" of small shrub/bushes on my land that I hunt on. These small trees are usually 5-7 feet tall, always grow in thickets of ten to up to sixty or so bushes. They are always lo...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover plant that tastes like cucumbers
December 18, 2011 - It is a native ground cover plant that is edible and tastes like cucumbers. Found in the Edwards Plateau. What is the name?
view the full question and answer

Plant identifcation
October 05, 2009 - I have 3-4' high plants, spaced out thick red-greem stalks, w/slender long dark green leaves, several round "single" light lavender colored flowers 1&1/2" in circumference continuously bloom. Butt...
view the full question and answer

Wild cranberries in Pennsylvania
September 27, 2013 - Where are wild cranberries located in northwest PA, near Brookville?
view the full question and answer

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