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
1 rating

Saturday - April 23, 2011

From: Chattanooga, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant from childhood
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to locate and identify a plant from my childhood (I'm 65). It was either a small tree or possibly a tree formed hedge like plant. It had small roundish leaves scattered on tiny limbs similar to wild huckleberry plant. It had white bell shaped flowers similar in size and shape to lily of the valley except more transparent in appearance.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants may be able to make some suggestions as long as it is a North American native plant (our specialty) and if your childhood was spent in Tennessee near your present location.   If you spent your childhood in another part of the country far from Chatanooga, Tennessee, then you need to let us know where it was so that we can do a different search.

So, we're looking for a large shrub/small tree with bell-shaped flowers similar to Convallaria majuscula (American lily of the valley) and small round leaves similar to wild huckleberry.

Your plant sounds as if it belongs to the Family Ericaceae (Heath Family).  There are 119 members of that family in our Native Plant Database, but we can narrow that number down to 31 species found in Tennessee if you use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose Tennessee from the Select State or Province category.  This gives us 31 possibilities.  You can narrow the search more by making a size choice.

One that doesn't occur on our list as living in Tennessee is Vaccinium myrtilloides (Velvetleaf huckleberry).  It has leaves and flowers that match your description but it isn't listed as occurring in Tennessee although it does occur in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Here are more possibilities from the list for Kentucky:

The one with flowers and leaves that most closely match your description is Vaccinium arboreum (Farkleberry) usually grows to 12-15 feet, but can grow to 25 feet.  Here are more photos.

Eubotrys racemosa (Fetter-bush) has flowers that match, but the leaves don't.  More photos.

Lyonia ligustrina (He-huckleberry) flowers somewhat fit your discription but the leaves don't.  Here are photos.

Leucothoe fontanesiana (Drooping leucothoe) has similar flowers but leaves don't match.  More photos.

Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry) and here are photos.

Vaccinium fuscatum (Black highbush blueberry) and more photos.

Vaccinium pallidum (Blue ridge blueberry) and here are photos.

You can see many of these plants shown on the following webpage:  North Carolina Wildflowers, Shrubs—Ericaceae>Vaccinium.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of some of the plants above.  I hope that you can find your childhood plant among them.


Vaccinium myrtilloides

Vaccinium arboreum

Eubotrys racemosa

Leucothoe fontanesiana

Vaccinium corymbosum

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
September 23, 2010 - There is a vine that grows at my child's daycare that has been taunting me day and night, because I have no idea what it is and I typically have no problems identifying plants. Description: Vine- L...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Cryptomeria japonica for homeowners association
May 09, 2007 - Good morning. We are wondering if Cryptomeria japonica trees can fit under the term "pine like". We used the term pine like when asking for our home owners associations approval and we put in a Cr...
view the full question and answer

Mystery plant in Vicksburg, MS
May 20, 2008 - I have a strange plant that has come up by a ditch next to my house. I've lived here 23 years and have never seen anything like it. I can only guess that it came up from a packet of wildflower seed...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 04, 2010 - Please identify this tree: has leaves like a catalpa, blue/lavender flowers on a long flower spike at the end of the limb, green fruit/seed about the size of a pecan it is fuzzy like a peach with a h...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant at 6500 ft. in Boulder UT
September 19, 2009 - Located at 6,500 feet in Boulder, Utah..not Colorado in sandy soil with irrigation, we have discovered a deep green leafy (unfurls from the center) plant with six lobes on each side of the leaf stem. ...
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