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

Wednesday - June 29, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant Identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in east Austin Texas, close to Manor. I was pulling a particular "weed" out of the cracks of my driveway on 06-12-11. This weed has always reminded me of moss rose, but the flowers are not as pretty (nowhere near). Today (06-14-11), I came across some information on the Internet about a plant called Portulaca oleracea L., also known as purslane. This purslane in the Internet photos looks very similar to what I was pulling out of the cracks of my driveway. The reason that I'm asking is because Portulaca oleracea is an extremely healthy vegetation that is edible. If that is what I am growing, I want to grow more and try eating it. Of course, I don't want to try eating something that may be poisonous. I can send you a photo if you give me an email address or ftp site. Thank you.


Sorry, but we no longer accept photos of plants for identification.  We were overwhelmed with photos and didn't have enough staff and volunteers to do the research to identify the plants in the photos.  As you can read on our Plant Identification page: 

"We would love to spend all day identifying native plants for you folks! However, we already spend all day (and most of the night) answering your native plant questions. Luckily, there are some excellent forums available to help you identify those mysterious unknowns."

You can send your photos to one of the links of the plant identification forums for identification.

From your description, howoever, it does sound as if you found either  Portulaca oleracea (Common purslane), Portulaca pilosa (Chisme) or Portulaca umbraticola (Wingpod purslane).  These are the native species of purslane that occur in Travis County.  You can find more information and additional photos of these on the internet by scrolling down the species page in our Native Plant Database to the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES entry and clicking on the name shown after Google.

Our entry for P. oleracea certainly indicates that it is edible and no Portulaca species occurs on any of the toxic plant databases that we commonly reference:

We would caution about eating any plant, however, unless you are absolutely sure of its identity and edibility.


From the Image Gallery

Kiss me quick
Portulaca pilosa

Wingpod purslane
Portulaca umbraticola

More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery tree with yellow fruit in MN
November 12, 2012 - There is a tree at my workplace, about 8' tall, with small, pea-sized yellow berries right now (Oct. 2012). The berries are attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and the tree has small leaves that are simple...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
March 15, 2012 - My daughter took the attached picture of a plant growing along a road in Austin, TX. I've searched the database and several wildflower books and can't find the flower. Can you identify it? Thanks fo...
view the full question and answer

Non-native eleagnus from Jesup GA
January 17, 2014 - An elderly farmer has told me about a plant called Alley Agnes, but I can't find any plant by this name anywhere. He doesn't know another name for it, says it's what everyone has always called it i...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating unwanted vine on arbor in San Francisco
November 20, 2012 - There is a vine growing on our arbor, it has sickle-shaped pods and is crushing the arbor, how do we get rid of it?
view the full question and answer

Identity of vines in Florida
October 30, 2012 - Hello, I have 2 different types of vines growing in my shrubs. They are very pretty and I like them I just want to know if they are poisonous or if they will take over my shrubs. I have not been able ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center