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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.

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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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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!

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Thursday - November 04, 2010

From: Hinsdale, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to figure out what this plant is..It has light feathery leaves like dill. It is an annual in the midwest. Height 5-6 feet tall. Stalk is about 3 inches wide with branches that are 2 feet long. It has turned bright red this autumn and the seeds are tiny and brown. Could it be anise? Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

It is rarely possible to identify a plant from a description alone; however, one native plant does come to mind.  This is Eupatorium capillifolium (Dog fennel).  The stalks can turn reddish in the fall.  Here are links to photos from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas, Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide, Alabama Plants, University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and the USDA Plants Database.  The USDA Plants Database doesn't show it occurring in Illinois but it is recorded in Missouri and Kentucky.  If this isn't your plant, you might consider taking photos and submitting them to one or more of the Plant Identification forums listed on our Plant Identification page.

 

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