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Mr. Smarty Plants - Identification of non-native Nothoscordum borbonicum in Louisiana

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Sunday - March 26, 2006

From: Salisbury, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Identification of non-native Nothoscordum borbonicum in Louisiana
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

There were some small white flowers that grow everywhere in Shreveport and probably elsewhere. Mother called them Crows Feet. I see them if I am home in the Springtime, smell them too. Is Crow's foot the right name? Will they grow in North Carolina?

ANSWER:

We've found one reference that the white version of one of the wild cranesbill geraniums, Geranium maculatum, is sometimes called Crow's Foot, but we've found no references that say that it's fragrant. It grows throughout the eastern half of North America, including Louisiana and North Carolina, though in most places the flowers are pink or lavender. The white flowered form is sometimes called Wild White Geranium; the pink and lavender forms are usually called Spotted Geranium. We also considered the possibility that it might be the small, white flowered Crow Poison (Nothoscordum bivalve), but that one isn't fragrant either. Both plants are in bloom in the spring.
Postscript: The questioner wrote back to let us know that the flower turned out to be Nothoscordum borbonicum, known as Fragrant False Garlic, an introduced South American relative of our native False Garlic/Crow Poison (Nothoscordum bivalve).
 

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