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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 - March 20, 2006

From: Greensboro, NC
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Assistance in photographing Turnera diffusa in Rio Grande Valley
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

Do you know where I can photograph a specimen of Turnera diffusa Willd. ex J.A. Schultes var. aphrodisiaca? I'll be in Texas in May and it is on my list to try and locate. I understand it grows in Zapata and Starr counties. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Turnera diffusa var. aphrodisiaca grows wild in Texas only in the Rio Grande Valley, its range not extending much beyond the two counties you mention. There are reports of it occurring in Starr, Zapata, Hidalgo, Cameron, Jim Hogg, and Jim Wells counties.

Here are some contacts who may be able to help you locate specimens to photograph:

Christina Mild, a nature writer and biologist living in the Valley, has photographed and written about many of the native plants of the region, including Turnera diffusa var. aphrodisiaca.

Mike Heep, a prominent South Texas native plant nurseryman, is mentioned in the Christina Mild article as having propagated the plant.

Phillip Schappert, a biologist with the University of Texas at Austin, has photographed the plant growing in Starr County west of Roma, near where FM 650 meets US 83. Though he doesn't live in the Valley, he may be able to give you directions to the plants he photographed.

You might also try contacting the Native Plant Project, which advocates the preservation and propagation of plants native to the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Good luck.

 

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