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?

Share

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
6 ratings

Tuesday - May 23, 2006

From: Ann Arbor, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Learning to identify wild plants in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am trying to learn more about Michigan wildplants by taking one sample home each time I take my dog on a walk. We walk in fields, woods and wetlands in Ann Arbor. Today I found several Jack-in-the-Pulpits, but most of the plants I cannot identify. Is there an efficient online tool to help people like me or must I buy a book? What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

Well, I can tell you what I have found effective here in Texas. I have several books that I use. Sometimes they get me to the correct identification directly, or they may lead me to a family or even a genus that looks hopeful. I then use that information to search the internet. My first choice is our Native Plants Database. You can search by scientific name--all or part of it--and by common name. You can also do a "Combination Search" and use multiple criteria (Bloom Characteristics, Growth Form, Growing Conditions, and Distribution) and narrow down your choices. You can also use the USDA Plants Database to help you pick out a particular species of a genus by searching on the genus name and then looking at the maps to determine which particular species occurs in your state. The USDA Plants Database also contains many photographs. A good web resource specifically for Michigan plants is the Michigan Flora web page. Another internet resource appropriate for Michigan is Wisconsin State Herbarium.

Of course, books are portable. You can visit our Native Plant Bibliography to find identification guides for Michigan. Gleason's Plants of Michigan has a key to help you in identification. The plants are arranged by family with some illustrations included. Lund's Michigan Wildflowers in Color, published in 1998, arranges the flowers by color for ease in identification. Tekiela's Wildflowers of Michigan Field Guide published in 2001 (not listed in our bibliography) also arranges the flowers by color.
 

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Wildflower seeds for Nocona, Texas
August 13, 2008 - I have a place on Lake Nocona in Nocona,TX and am wanting to buy native wild flower seeds that will take the heat and little water. I have both sunlight and shade. I,m interested in the western prairi...
view the full question and answer

Resources on advisability of using native plants in landscaping
February 13, 2004 - I'm a member of the Williamson County NPSOT. It came to our attention recently that the city of Georgetown is considering trying to be "friendlier" to native and natural landscaping. At this point ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Kokias
January 27, 2005 - I am searching for seeds of different Kokias (Kokia cookei, K. drynariodes and K. kauaiensis) and Thespesias (Thespesia grandiflora, T. thespesioides, T. nerifolia and T. popul...
view the full question and answer

Difficulty identifying/finding a plant
August 21, 2010 - I have been advised that the Calandria (sic) is a good plant to cover a cement wall surrounding our home in La Quinta, CA. I cannot find such a plant on line. Can you assist? I want to entirely cov...
view the full question and answer

Garden planning for wedding in Tallahassee
July 18, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I would love your advice on creating a Wildflower Garden Plan. Earlier this spring in Tallahassee (North Florida). I sowed Wildflowers for the first time to see what would blo...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center