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

Thursday - July 22, 2010

From: Aurora, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, (love the name), I have found a plant in my yard. Underground it looks like a green onion, above ground it has a broad leaf, a thin 8-12 inch stalk and the top 2" of the stalk is covered with 1/8 inch shiny green balls. I popped one of the balls and there were a few tiny white balls. Weed or desired garden plant? They were growing under an over growth of black berries.

ANSWER:

It sounds like a species in the Family Liliaceae (Lily Family).  There are many native species of Allium (onion).  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the species to those occurring in Oregon.  However, in general, the onion species have rather narrow leaves. 

Here are a few other lily possibilities:

Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum (bluedicks)

Triantha glutinosa (sticky tofieldia)

Or, it might be on of the species of Zigadenus.  Use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to select for those that occur in Oregon.

Of course, it may be a cultivated plant and not a native plant at all. You might try searching in Mark Turner's Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest and entering 'Liliaceae' as a search term under Quick Search. His database contains both native and introduced plants.  Our Native Plant Database contains only North American natives.

Very few of the photographs you find will show the fruits—most show the flowers and some foliage.  You will have to use the arrangement of the flowers and the leaves to get an idea of whether the plant looks like your plant.

If none of this helps you identify what it might be, please send us photos and we will give it a try.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions for submitting photos.

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identfication
October 05, 2009 - While visiting a lake near Dallas, Texas this past summer, I found a flower floating in the lake. It was small, only about an inch or so across, had three petals, was a deep magenta shade, and had th...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant at UGA Trial Gardens 15 years ago
August 14, 2012 - Looking to identify a plant that was in UGA trial gardens about 15 years ago, large plant with purple flowers, fuzzy leaves like a lambs ear. Thought it started with a Thiobana or something like that
view the full question and answer

Looking for name of fragrant, night-blooming plant with flower resembling gardenia
January 05, 2008 - The plant that I am looking for is a night bloomer, strong scented and has leaves and flowers similar to gardenia. I have seen a picture of the plant but not the actually plant. Can you give me an id...
view the full question and answer

Seeds of Castilleja purpurea
April 12, 2012 - The seed photo for Castilleja purpurea is incorrect; seeds are black and poppyseed size.
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

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