En Español

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
1 rating

Monday - November 14, 2011

From: Beaumont, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a plant that appears to be a pink Merremia.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently discovered a plant growing locally that was not blooming, but based on the leaves and seed pods I thought it might be Merremia quinquefolia. This week I was able to catch it blooming and the flowers were not white like Merremia quinquefolia photos I have seen but pink, about an inch across with a darker star pattern and throat. Any ideas what it could be?

ANSWER:

The USDA Plants Database reports seven species of Merremia that occur in North America.  There are four native species and three introduced ones that have been naturalized.  Merremia quinquefolia, with white flowers, is native to Florida, the West Indies and Central and South America. Merremia dissecta (Alamo vine) occurs in Texas, the southeastern states, and Pennsylvania.  Its flowers are white with dark red centers.  It does have five-fingered leaves like M. quinquefolia, but the leaves don't have smooth edges.  There is, however, a variety, Merremia dissecta var. edentata, with leaves with smooth edges.  Merremia cissoides is native to Florida and also has white flowers with a dark red center. Merremia umbellata is native to Florida and has yellow flowers.  Merremia aegyptia, a South African native also has white flowers.  Merremia tuberosa is yellow and a native of Central and South America. Merremia gemella is an Asian native and is also yellow.  You can see photos of Merremia gemella here with photos of still more species of Merremia, most of which have not been naturalized in the US.  Of these seven, your plant could possibly be a Merremia dissecta var. edentata with a flower color mutation.

However, I think the best bet for your Merremia-like flower is another member of the Family Convolvulaceae (Morning Glory Family)—Ipomoea cairica (Sweet mile a minute vine). Here are more photos and information from the University of Queensland, Australia.  Its origins are probably Africa and/or Asia, but it is naturalized in the US as well as other countries (e.g., Australia).  Here is the distribution map for the US.  It has pink or lavender flowers with a deeper pink throat and its leaves are similarly shaped to those of M. quinquefolia

If this is not the plant that you have seen and you have photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that accept photos for identification.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of a vine in El Paso, Texas
November 23, 2012 - I live in Del Rio Texas - Zone 8/9 and I have a vine which can't be identified. It looks like a morning glory white flower with crimson throat, but the leaf pattern is like a 5-7 fingered hand with d...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Cercis canadensis or Cornus florida
July 03, 2007 - I have what I think is a dogwood tree of some sort but I'm not sure. I wondered if I sent you a picture you could identify it. So far no one has. It's different because of its branches. They are red...
view the full question and answer

Mystery plant
August 31, 2009 - mystery plant, multiple non-woody stems from a single base, thorns like a rose bush,leaves like poison ivy in sets of three with the top dark green underside pale green. thanks
view the full question and answer

Ivy with holes in its leaves
May 31, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Pants, Please help me, I was given an ivy (origin unknown). It is peculiar. It has holes in the leaves, not from bugs or from bacteria, etc. It is natural, the holes develop in some type...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 01, 2013 - I picked a beautiful large red wildflower, & by the time I got home, the stem had turned "spikey" and dark black! Very ugly & a little scary as I had never heard of such a flower! Can you identify??
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center