En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

ID for Dill-like weed
February 12, 2009 - I live in Richmond,VA.and have a man made dam for a pond fed by several springs. There's a scruffy weed that looks like dill weed when it emerges in the spring but is so tough that I can't pull it u...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
March 28, 2010 - Found thorny bush in woods near my home that I need to identify. It is a tall shrub (approx. 10 feet) that has very large thorns on its green branches. I don't see any flowers yet. It doesn't appear...
view the full question and answer

ID of odd woodland plant in PA?
July 20, 2009 - Found in the woods in Eastern Pennsylvania. It is about 8 inches tall and were found in clusters of 3 to 10. They are clear. with pink and black tops. Similar to a flower, but snaps like a fungus. ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Richardson TX
May 24, 2014 - Need to send a pic for id.
view the full question and answer

Identification of Verbesina occidentalis (Yellow crownbeard) in Burnet County TX
November 23, 2015 - Looked up (small) yellow crownbeard..yellow, no description or pic. Csn you tell me if this is what is in this pic? THX! Can't insert a pic to say y/n. 😟it's in Burnet, Co..SE of Marble Fal...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center