En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Dill-like plant in veggie garden in California
September 28, 2011 - I have a plant that appeared in my veggie garden. Looks like dill in spring when green, but the leaves smell more like turpentine! Now, 4-5 foot tall, brown, it produces lots of small, oval - not cr...
view the full question and answer

Flower with spike of yellow flowers with hairy purple filaments
July 03, 2012 - Fuzzy purple stamens! I can't find this plant identified anywhere. Blooms abt 1" or a little more across. 5 yellow petals, 5 sepals, & 5 stamens with yellow anthers, & the filaments are covered wi...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine in Louisiana
July 06, 2011 - I have two vines in my backyard. I've looked at pictures of each and they both keep coming up "virginia creeper." However, both are different. Neither causes an allergic reaction. One has leaflets ...
view the full question and answer

Difference between vetch and woolly loco
April 29, 2006 - What is the difference between vetch and woolly loco?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 07, 2011 - Please help me identify this volunteer plant in my back yard in Austin, TX. It has long thorns. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center