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

Preserving endangered plants in Massachusetts
April 09, 2006 - I've recently visited the national registry of threatened or endangered plants for my Massachusetts home, with a hope of : 1. Identifying rare, threatened or endangered species in my state. 2. fi...
view the full question and answer

Best places to obtain native plants
July 13, 2006 - Where is the best place to get native plants ?
view the full question and answer

Want to take cuttings from Yaupon in Tomball, TX.
August 06, 2010 - From Tomball, Texas - we have a very shaded back yard and would like some lower growing shrubbery as a screen for the neighbors. Wild yaupon holly is growing well on the fringes and I would like to f...
view the full question and answer

Identification of palm plant
June 21, 2008 - Hello! I just bought a tiny 10" tall feather leafed palm. I did my research first though, and thought I was buying an areca palm. Now after doing more research, I really have no idea what type of pal...
view the full question and answer

Source for ground pine plants from Ligonier PA
December 21, 2012 - Where can I purchase "ground pine plants? I want to use them for erosion control.
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