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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

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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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.

 
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Wednesday - June 29, 2011

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

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