En Español

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

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

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

Plant identfication
August 09, 2009 - We have red pointed things growing wild in our yard. About the size of an index finger. They just pop up after a rain. Are they poisonous? We have pets.
view the full question and answer

Identification of seedlings
December 20, 2014 - So..last spring I spread out a bag of random Texas wildflower seed I bought at Home Depot. Bautiful things happened. Since that time I've collected seeds while out camping etc and just been chunking ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub looking like honeysuckle in Odessa TX
October 02, 2011 - Bought a shrub in Pecos, TX yesterday. It looks like honeysuckle but the brightest flat orange I have ever seen. Flower and greenery looked like honeysuckle but when I looked on the Internet under or...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tiny blue flower blooming in February
March 18, 2013 - There is a very small four petal flower that appears near the end of Winter. (This year they appeared in late Feb). These little flowers are a "Light Blueish" hue. They are around a quarter inch ac...
view the full question and answer

Is there a Salvia azurea var. alba?
February 03, 2008 - Is there a Salvia azurea var. alba?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center