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
1 rating

Saturday - February 05, 2011

From: Lehi, UT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Jersalem artichoke as a medicinal herb
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


I am having trouble with high cholesterol and coming up on being borderline diabetic and I am overweight. I know that Jerusalum Artichoke helps lower blood sugar. Am into herbs and J.A. is hard to locate, what other plants can help me in these areas? Thank you, Margaret Shumate Carlson


Mr. Smarty Plants wants his readers to know that he is not qualified to give medical advice, which includes making suggestions on herbs and medicinal plants for various ailments. He can only tell you what is best to grow in your part of the United States.   On that note, Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke) is native to most of the United States, with the exception of the desert southwest.  In Utah, it is actually considered a native of Utah County!  This is a plant we can recommend because it is a beautiful native that can be grown locally by you.  For information on propagating this plant - I would contact your County extension service, the native plant society of Utah, the university, and the American Botanical Council (Austin).  The Wikipedia article on the Jerusalem artichoke indicates that it is a source of fructose and ethanol fuel.  I was amused by the quote from the English planter John Goodyer from Gerard's Herbal, which was rather scathing towards Jerusalem artichoke as a food!

You should always consult your physician before embarking on a herbal course.  I checked a few sources for herbal information.  Ones that appeared reputable were the American Botanical Council, Suite 101, and an article by Jonathan Klemens.  Still, looking at the herbs that were mentioned, only a few were native to the US and none to Utah, which makes them inappropriate to recommend to you.


From the Image Gallery

Jerusalem artichoke
Helianthus tuberosus

More Edible Plants Questions

Identification of a plant with bumpy red fruit
April 26, 2011 - I have a bush with red berry like pods on it. They are about 3/4 of an inch bumpy round with a big seed inside. The leaves are smooth and oval shape. Please let me know if it is poisonous or not, and...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
view the full question and answer

Who ate the Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Ontario?
July 07, 2009 - Something has dug up my clump of Jack-in-the-pulpit at my parents' cottage in the Haliburtons (Ontario, Canada). Leaves, berries and roots are gone. We know we have a black bear who likes our compo...
view the full question and answer

Is 'Hot Lips' salvia edible from Richmond TX
June 23, 2010 - Mr Smarty Plants, I recently planted "Hot Lips" a form of Salvia Sage in my yard in Richmond Texas (just southwest of Houston). The leaves and flowers smell so great I would like to know if either ...
view the full question and answer

Sap of mulberry similar to sap of maple for syrup from Wellman IA
February 23, 2012 - Can the the sap of the mulberry tree be used to make syrup similar to maple Syrup?
view the full question and answer

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