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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

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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Wednesday - August 24, 2011

From: Arkport, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have searched through all the plant identifications and can not find the one I am looking for. I live 6o miles South of Rochester, NY. In my woods, I found 2 plants, that are no where else in the woods or in my fields. At the base of the plant, the leaves are ovate and smooth. They are in a whorled fashion around the base, and have 3 leaves on each stem. The stems shoot up several feet and have branching, in which single, tiny, pale flowers bloom. Some have died and formed a seed. I went through every source and can not locate a picture that identifies it.


This Mr. Smarty Plants isn't at all sure that she has found your plant.   I have found a few plants that have features that sound something like your description, but nothing that meets your description exactly.

Gillenia trifoliata (Bowman's root) and with sets of three leaves near the base of the plant.  Here is a drawing that shows the three leaves better.

Geum canadense (White avens) with three whorled leaves and here are more photos.

Geum laciniatum (Rough avens) and here are photos.

Geum virginianum (Cream avens) and here is a drawing.

Galium triflorum (Fragrant bedstraw) with 6 whorled leaves on the stem.  Here are more photos and information.

Galium circaezans (Licorice bedstraw) and more photos and information.

Galium asprellum (Rough bedstraw) with 6 whorled leaves.  Here are photos.

If none of these is your plant and you have photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that accept photographs for identification.  You might also contact the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society to see if they might have an idea about what your plant could be.


From the Image Gallery

Bowman's root
Gillenia trifoliata

White avens
Geum canadense

Cream avens
Geum virginianum

Fragrant bedstraw
Galium triflorum

Licorice bedstraw
Galium circaezans

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