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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Tuesday - July 05, 2011

From: Roanoke, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plant identification of shrub with thorns and purple flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a small tree or shrub, it has very small or thin thorns on the branches. It blooms in April / May. The flowers are purple. My mother-in-law said that it has been around for over 100 years, but she can not recall the name. Can you help?

ANSWER:

Well, maybe.  So far I haven't been able to find your plant although I've consulted with several people about it and searched our Native Plant Database for it.  If it is a North American native plant (although I have my doubts) you might recognize it in our Native Plant Database.  You, yourself, can do a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing 'Indiana' from Select State or Province, 'Shrub' or 'Tree' from Habit (general appearance) and 'Pink', 'Blue', 'Purple' and 'Violet' from Bloom Characteristics–Color.  You will need to do two searches—one using 'Shrub' and the other using 'Tree'. If you can't find it in our Native Plant Database, it is likely that your tree or shrub is an introduced ornamental. Since our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America, we won't be able to help you identify introduced ornamentals.  For introduced ornamentals we recommend that you take photos of the plant and submit them to one of the plant identification forums whose links are on our Plant Identification page.  Be sure that you read the notes about submitting images for identification.   Good luck finding the identity of your plant.

 

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