Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - November 13, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of large, sunflower-like plant
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are trying to figure out the identity of a large, sunflower-like plant. It is a perennial that sends out approximately 10-12 stalks about 10 feet high. It then starts to bloom with small sunflower-like flowers starting from the top and over a few weeks, working all the blossoms down the stem. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has thought a lot about this and has made a few assumptions that may or may not be right, but they are:

  1. The plant is in Texas.
  2. It is growing in the wild and not a cultivated plant growing in someone's garden.
  3. It was blooming in October.

If those assumptions are correct, here are a few possibilities: 

I think the most likely match is Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower).  Here are more photos.

Two more large sunflowers bloom in October in Texas:

Helianthus annuus (Common sunflower), but the flowers are large and bloom singly on a stem.

Helianthus argophyllus (Silverleaf sunflower) presents the same problems as the common sunflower.

Another large yellow-blooming plant that is seen around Austin at this time of the year is Tecoma stans (Yellow bells)—not a member of the Family Asteraceae (Aster Family), but in the Family Bignoniaceae (Trumpet Creeper Family).

If none of these is the plant you have seen and you have photos, please visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to plant identification forums that will accept photos for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID in Springfield OR
July 08, 2009 - I recently discovered a wildflower closely resembling the Oregon Lady Slipper, apparently a wild orchid, but with many blooms on a single long stem and with no apparent leaves. I'd like more informat...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
April 04, 2010 - There's a wildflower growing on my patio its leaves look like the leaves of a lute leaf sage, it has a flower stalk with yellow flowers. The stalk is about a one foot high. What is the name of it?
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Norman, OK
October 10, 2013 - I have two large plants in my back yard that just sprang up on their own this year. They are beautiful and the butterflies and bees love them. I think they are a type of milkweed, but they don't lo...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from North Carolina
August 16, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smartyplants, I know that you can identify blue cohash in a neat way: 3 stems which easy branch to 3 more stems which each branch into 3 more and then 3 leaves attached to each. Well, do you...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.