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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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Sunday - June 05, 2011

From: Kinston, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Can Flame Acanthus grow in North Carolina, from Kinston NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can I grow the flame acanthus (humming bird bush) in eastern North Carolina. If so where can I find it. Thanks,

ANSWER:

We wouldn't bet on it, sorry.  According to our Native Plant Database webpage on  Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus) (which read) it is endemic to Texas, and can freeze to the ground, but sometimes come back, as far south as Dallas, which is USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7b. Lenoir County appears to be in Zone 7a, which is close, but there are also considerations of soil type and season length. From the Growing Conditions:

"Soil Description: Well-drained sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. Adapts to a wide variety of soils, from rocky slopes to open areas.
Conditions Comments: This drought- and cold-tolerant shrub will adapt to a variety of soils and does well in patio pots. It blooms best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. As with many other xeric plants, rain triggers blooms."

And from the description of its habitat:

Distribution

"USA: TX
Native Distribution: The northernmost variety of its species, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii ranges from south-central Texas (the southern Edwards Plateau) and west Texas into northern Mexico. Its species, Anisacanthus quadrifidus, continues south to Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
Native Habitat: Rocky banks and floodplains of streams, shrublands (matorral), and grasslands"

So, one last hope, we checked the USDA Plant Profile on Flame Acanthus and, sure enough, nowhere but in Texas.

 

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