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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - August 16, 2010

From: Carrboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant ID from North Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hi Mr. Smartyplants, I know that you can identify blue cohash in a neat way: 3 stems which easy branch to 3 more stems which each branch into 3 more and then 3 leaves attached to each. Well, do you know of any plants that do something just as simply in a 4-4-4-4 structure?


Is this just an academic question, or do you have a plant you are trying to identify? Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh) is native to North  America as well as to North Carolina. If you have seen a plant with the 4-4-4-4 configuration, that would be very exciting. However, we know of no such plant, native or not. So, if you have seen one:

We love identifying native plants for folks! Do you have a picture of a plant found growing in the wild somewhere in North America and you would like to know its name? Send us an email following the instructions below. Please do not send pictures of house plants, office plants, garden plants, plants seen on your vacation to Costa Rica or other clearly non-native species. For identification of non-native plants you might consider visiting the UBC Botanical Gardens Forums website.

  1. Tell us where and when you found the plant and describe the site where it occurred.
  2. If possible, take several high-resolution images including details of leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and the overall plant.
  3. Save images in JPEG format. Do not reduce the resolution of your images. High-resolution images are much easier for us to work with.

Send email with images attached to id@smartyplants.org. Please enter Plant ID Request on the subject line of your email.

From our Native Plant Database:

Caulophyllum thalictroides

Caulophyllum thalictroides

Caulophyllum thalictroides

Caulophyllum thalictroides








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