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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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Wednesday - September 22, 2010

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

 

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