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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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Friday - May 06, 2011

From: Springfield, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Mystery plant in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We bought a new house with an established garden bed last fall. We have a tall single stemmed plant with long slightly twisted leaves that looks like a tall tulip plant. However, it is just starting to bloom with a cluster of brownish pink bell shaped flowers hanging at the tip of this 3 foot stem. Can you tell us what it may be?

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, we have no way of positively identifying a plant without a photograph (and sometimes that is kind of "iffy") but your description  made me wonder if it might not be a fritillaria.

Although all the members of that group native to the US are native to the western states, it is a huge family and the bulbs from all over the world are planted widely.  Check out this Wikipedia entry to see if you find your plant. It might be a Crown Imperial.

Here are some photos of the fritillaria known as Checker lily or Mission bells.


Fritillaria affinis var. affinis


Fritillaria affinis var. affinis

 

 

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