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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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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Saturday - May 07, 2011

From: Owensboro, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of small plant with lavendar flower
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have something growing in my yard and pasture that for some odd reason is growing all over the place. I never noticed it being this abundant before. I'm not sure if it's listed as a wild flower or maybe even a weed. I do have some nice photos of it, is there any way I can email them so you can see what I'm talking about? The thing that has me worried is my horse LOVES them and I want to make sure they won't harm him if he eats them. They do have a real small bloom on them that's lavender in color. I believe they're mostly a ground cover and don't get very tall. At most they're not more than 10 inches tall. The leaves are pointed at the bottom just like the bottom of a valentine heart. I'm just not too sure how to describe them. Thank you for any help you can give me. I did try to join your web site and haven't received the conformation email back. How long does that usually take??

ANSWER:

You can search for native plant possibilities by using the COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and choosing Kentucky from Select State or Province, 'Herb' from Habit (general appearance) and, under Bloom characteristics, choosing 'March' and 'April' for Time and 'Purple', 'Violet', 'Blue' and 'Pink' under Color.

Here are some potential matches:

Collinsia verna (Spring blue eyed mary) and here are more photos.

Cynoglossum virginianum (Wild comfrey) and here are more photos.

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage)

Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata (Lance selfheal)

Scutellaria parvula (Small scullcap) and here are more photos.

Veronica serpyllifolia (Thymeleaf speedwell) and here are more photos.

Here are some possibilities for non-native, introduced plants:

Lamium amplexicaule (henbit) is native to Europe but is commonly found in turf over all of North America.

Lamium purpureum (Purple deadnettle) is also an introduced species that occurs over most of North America.

Veronica persica (Persian speedwell) is another introduced species that can be found all over North America.

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) is yet another introduced species that occurs over all of North America.

If none of these is your plant (or you didn't find it by doing the COMBINATION SEARCH), please visit our Plant Identification page to find resources for plant identifications where you can submit your photos.

Here are databases that you can use to check on toxicity of plants to horses and other animals:

ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List - Horses  [Note:  The first list is for plants toxic to horses and the second list is for plants non-toxic to horses.]

Horse Nutrition: Poisonous Plants from Ohio State University Extension Service

10 Most Poisonous Plants for Horses from Equisearch

Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants from the Universtiy of Pennsylvania

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

Of the plants listed above the only one that appears in several of the databases is Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy).  Here is the file from Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System.

Another species of Cynoglossom—Cynoglossum officinale (hound's tongue)—appears in at least two of the databases, but it does not resemble the plants you describe.

Finally, if you were trying to become a member of the Wildflower Center and have not yet received confirmation, please go to the Contact Us page to make inquiries.

 

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