Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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
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

Source for Wave scaly cloakfern (Astrolepis sinuata)
April 13, 2006 - Can't make it to the Plant Sale but really want to buy one Astrolepis sinuata (Wavy Cloak Fern) if a plant is available for sale. Is it possible to buy one if one is available after the sale date (j...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lilacs for wedding bouquet in July in Salt Lake City
May 07, 2010 - My friend's daughter wants to have lilacs in her wedding bouquet, but she is not getting married until July 15th. I realize lilacs are spring flowers, but will there be anywhere in the U.S. that lila...
view the full question and answer

Looking for seed for Clematis drummondii in Granbury, TX.
November 29, 2010 - I am trying to landscape with native Texas plants. I want a Clematis drummondii and have no idea where to get one. I read it grows readily from seeds, but I cannot locate any. Can you help. Also, ...
view the full question and answer

Source for Habiturf sod in Central Texas
October 02, 2015 - Do you know any source for Habiturf sod in Central Texas? I contacted Blade Runner Farms and they replied that their Habiturf project was discontinued.
view the full question and answer

Obtaining native plants in the Austin area from Schertz TX
November 06, 2011 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I went to the plant sale this past weekend, I had a good time, there was a great selection of plants. I was there at 9:00AM Sat. and when I asked for some plants than I have on ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.