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?


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
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


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?


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 plant that looks like a watermelon.
May 21, 2012 - A wild plant came up in my bed that looked like a watermelon plant. It had small yellow blooms and then marble balls formed with prickly thorns. The balls were in clusters. What kind of plant is i...
view the full question and answer

Locating Rosa rugosa for Massachusetts
May 09, 2006 - There is a shrub that grows out on the Cape especially at the beach. I have always called it Beach Rose and I have heard other people call it a Beach Plum. However, the most recent picture of a Beac...
view the full question and answer

Is the Ashe juniper native from Round Mountain TX
June 23, 2010 - Some friends and I disagree on something, and I hope you will settle the argument. Are the cedars found in the Texas hill country (ashe juniper) native or not?
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant with opposite leaves in Washington
June 09, 2009 - My friend just bought a house and in the front yard are some bushes. I don't have a picture, but they are only 1-2 feet tall now. They have these unusual stems, throughout the entire bush. They are v...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 02, 2011 - I have a plant that I would like to identify. It is a tall shrub/woody vine? (approx. 8-10 feet) that has very large thorns on its branches and stems. The stems remain green during winter. It loses it...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center