En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - April 01, 2011

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of tree along Austin highways
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to identify a large tree seen along many Austin Highways. The best ID can find is Western Soapberry, but the articles all specify white blooms. The trees I see have purple clusters of blooms. They do have the pods seen on Soapberry. Is this a soapberry variety?

ANSWER:

The tree you are describing sounds like Melia azedarach (chinaberry tree). You are correct that its leaves and fruits resemble those of Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry), but it is an invasive, non-native introduced to the US from Asia.  Here are more photos and more information.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of Western soapberry:


Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii


Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii


Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery forest plant in WV
May 21, 2012 - In the mountains of southern WV I have several acres of shady, moist land. It has never been developed and is COVERED with a low growing fern?ground cover?whatever. It creeps along on very shallow r...
view the full question and answer

Do monarchs like Cynachum laeve in Austin, TX?
May 29, 2012 - I have found what I believe is Honeyvine (Cynanchum laeve) growing in my yard here in Austin. I tried using the LBJWC plant data base and could not find it. I also found the plant with a diff...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 11, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants.I hope you can help to save my sanity! I am a true believer in using native plantings, having a yard that is 99% native. I hope that fact provides me a little extra credit towar...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on wildflower identification
September 23, 2004 - Can you recommend a good CD-ROM on wildflower identification? I live in Virginia and am constantly frustrated trying to identify the myriad wildflowers I encounter as I move around the state.
view the full question and answer

Recognizing poison ivy
June 20, 2007 - I am having a difficult time identifying poison ivy. It seems so many plants look like poison ivy can you help me I don't want to kill everything but on the same hand I don't want to itch. Thanks f...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center