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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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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 - May 15, 2011

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification for Beeville, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I just saw this question on your web site: "Today in Beeville, TX I came across a plant that looks like a grass, but has a small black and white dotted flower. The flower looks like an orchid. Could you identify this or give me direction as to where I might find the answer?" Could this be a swanflower (Aristolochia erecta)?

ANSWER:

Thank you for that excellent suggestion!  Why didn't I think of that myself.  When I read "small black and white dotted flower", for some reason it translated to my brain as "white flower with black dots"  but it could just as well be "black flower with white dots".   I think you may have nailed its identification as Aristolochia erecta (Swanflower).  The text on this species page under GROWING CONDITIONS says:  "Swanflower is a trailing grass mimic, presumably to evade female Pipevine swallowtail butterflies looking for a good place to lay their eggs."  It all matches the description above.

Here are more photos from the School of Biological Sciences The University of Texas and Earthlight Imagery.   I'll be sure the person who wrote the question from Beeville, TX sees this question and answer.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Aristolochia erecta


Aristolochia erecta


Aristolochia erecta


Aristolochia erecta

 

 

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