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

Seed sources for Mexican Gama Grass
August 28, 2006 - I'm trying to find a seed source for Mexican Gama Grass (scientific name is Tripsacum lanceolatum). Can you help me? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Source for Texas Hawthorne (Crateagus texana)
May 19, 2006 - Hello, I am in search of some Texas Hawthorne (Crateagus texana). Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Resources for native plants and landscaping in El Paso, TX
January 24, 2006 - I live in El Paso, Texas, and want to know more about flowers and other native plants and landscaping in this specific geographical area. I would like information on particular plants that are suita...
view the full question and answer

Seeds for Commelina erecta from San Antonio
December 29, 2010 - Where can I buy Commelina erecta seeds?
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

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