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?


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

Sunday - May 15, 2011

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


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)?


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



More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery fast-growing plant with the honeysuckle
April 05, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We have a section of honeysuckle, then a section of this 4 foot, bright, hairy green leafed, thorn bush that seems to be blooming/growing faster than the honeysuckle. Then a sectio...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with white flowers in Arkansas
April 09, 2014 - I have about 15 flowering shrubs that just started blooming in a cut-over. They are about 6/7 feet tall and have an entire crown of white blooms that resemble a cross between a Dandelion and a Marigol...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Bidens aristosa (Tickseed sunflower) in Texas
November 20, 2015 - I think the ID of the plant I submitted a description of yesterday is Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
October 25, 2009 - Deer are devastating understory in our woods. We have a highly resistant shrub purchased years ago at the state arboretum plant sale. It is about 5-6' tall, somewhat wider than that, many suckers/o...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant that looks like green onions
April 06, 2013 - I have what looks like green onions growing in my lawn. They have small white flowers. Are they edible?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center