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
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

Wednesday - September 22, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Austin. Texas. My garden has been lying fallow for several seasons and earlier this week I started clearing the weeds and wild flowers in hopes of getting our vegetable garden started again. During the time that it has been unattended a plant that I’m not familiar with has taken over the garden. And I hope you can help me identify the plant. This is a sprawling plant that grows from one root system. The stems reach up to 6’ ft in length. The stems are coarse but do not root where they touch the ground. The leaves are opposing and most grow on small stems six to eight inches long that grow off of the main stem. The small stems are alternating on the main stem. The flowers are compound, very small the total compound head is ¼” in diameter and bright magenta colored. The flowers seem to close during the heat of the day. This plant has a thick tap root ¼” to 3/8” in diameter with horizontal roots that branch off near the surface of the soil. The horizontal roots are also about ¼”thick. The leaf and stem resemble Japanese honeysuckle. My wife calls this the weed from hell and I tend to agree. You can’t pull it up because the stems break off at the top of the root. I’ve been digging each root up. It makes you wish for nut grass. Thanks for any help you can give me with this. I’ve gone through several searches on line for the plant but have not found anything close.


The plant you describe sounds fascinating and frustrating, but from your description nothing comes to mind.  However, if you will send us photos, we will do our very best to identify it for you.  Please visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read the instructions for submitting photos.  Please follow the instructions carefully and please make sure your photos are in good focus before you submit them.


More Plant Identification Questions

Plant called beargrass from Granbury, TX
September 24, 2011 - I am not a native Texan. We have a clump of what my husband (from Big Spring) calls "Bear Grass." It is over to the side of our yard and we have always enjoyed it (moved here in 1982). It blooms ...
view the full question and answer

Mystery Iris-like plant in Tennessee
September 02, 2008 - What is this flower? It came up and bloomed for about five days then died. It was a beautiful white trumpet shaped flower. It had one stem with four flowers. It came up like an Iris but we nver plante...
view the full question and answer

Rash resulting from cutting trees in NC.
May 08, 2012 - My boyfriend was cutting some trees yesterday. He had thorns in his hands after he was done, and today he has a rash on his legs, a fever and he feels like throwing up. Can you tell me if its symptoms...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 29, 2014 - I have a plant in my yard about 3' high, narrow pointy smooth leaves covered with small berries that are turning purple. What is this? a weed? should I eliminate it from my xeriscape garden or wel...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 11, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants.I hope you can help to save my sanity! I am a true believer in using native plantings, having a yard that is 99% native. I hope that fact provides me a little extra credit towar...
view the full question and answer

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