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?


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

Saturday - September 04, 2010

From: Kemp, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Anne Bossart


Please identify this tree: has leaves like a catalpa, blue/lavender flowers on a long flower spike at the end of the limb, green fruit/seed about the size of a pecan it is fuzzy like a peach with a hard shell underneath the fuzz. There is a star shaped cap where the fruit attaches to the stem and the other end of the fruit is very pointed. I have seen it in a commercial landscape and at a residence.


This sounds like Paulownia tomentosa (princesstree), an invasive species from China.  Here is a link to more photos.  If this isn't the tree you saw, try to get photos of it and send them to us and we will do our best to identify it.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos. 

However, if this does appear to be the tree you saw and you were considering purchasing and planting one, we would urge you to please reconsider and plant, instead, one of the beautiful trees that are native to your area, such as:

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)

Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

Catalpa speciosa (northern catalpa)

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:

Cercis canadensis

Cornus florida

Cornus florida

Sassafras albidum

Catalpa speciosa






More Plant Identification Questions

Identity of purple flower with flowers similar to witch hazel
August 16, 2012 - Found along woods roads. Purple flower about 1 - 2 ft. in height. Central stem rises from a ground level leaf whorl of five leaves from 4 to 7 inches long and 2 to 3 inches at their widest point. C...
view the full question and answer

Looking for rattlesnake flower
April 22, 2008 - I taught school for many years. The students and I identified wildflowers. I had one I call Rattlesnake Flower. It was small and had a little blue flower. On the leaves were little seed cases that...
view the full question and answer

Question about the Chitalpa tree
June 28, 2012 - A bush w/6" long pencil thin seed pod, leaves 4"x1/2", flower that looks like the flower on the Chitalpa tree. Is there a Chitalpa bush. The one I have I grew from seed from the pod; flat, round ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Ohio with common name beginning with U, X or Z
October 13, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, Are there any plants native to Ohio or the Northeast that have common names starting with the letter "U" "X" or "Z"? I'm sewing a cross-stitch sampler using the alphabet ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Parkinsonia aculeata
June 11, 2005 - What is the name of the tall shrub I see growing wild around Austin that is delicate, with thin stems and branches, and lacy, with multiple leaves, and yellow flowers? It looks lovely growing in a ma...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center