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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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Sunday - March 13, 2011

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Ferns
Title: Identification of small purplish/pink flower with ferny leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

There is a totally adorable tiny flower blooming right now in my lease pasture near the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, TX. It has a rosette of 2"-3" ferny leaves circling a very tiny (1/4") purple or pink 5-petaled bloom. They came out last year, too. They bloom in areas that have bare dirt in my pasture, but I've seen a few on the roadside that are slightly larger but in very short-grass or forbed areas there. I can't seem to see them in any database I've found, yet. Probably don't get noticed except by folks like me just trying to get grass to grow in our dry pastures. They like areas where prairie verbena grow as well, so probably like a similar pH and full sun.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Erodium cicutarium (Redstem stork's bill or redstem filaree), a non-native introduced species from the area around the Mediterranean Sea.  It is now widespread over most of North America and is considered a noxious weed in some places (e.g., Colorado and California).  Here are photos and information from the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide.  As you can see, it is referred to as a weed by most people; but it is, nevertheless, a very attractive little plant.

 

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