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?

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
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

Sunday - January 08, 2012

From: West palm beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

When we moved in to this house, we planted many plants in the front landscaping. After they grew, it became too crowded. We had to move some plants to the backyard. The problem is, we have a plant that we aren't sure where it came from. We may have planted it or it may have grown in. It grew to about 10 feet tall in a year. It has several thin woody stems. They grow in different directions, so the plant is pretty big. The leaves are green on top and purple on bottom. There are small, purple clusters of what seem to be seeds coming from the stems, usually above leaves. I would be okay with the plant, but it is spreading throughout the yard. If you could identify it or at least tell me if it is native or not, I would be very grateful.

ANSWER:

There is one herbaceous plant that your description brings to mind, Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed).  Although its stems aren't truly woody, they can be substantial and it does grow rapidly and has purple berries.  Here is another photo showing reddish/purplish leaves and you can see more photos here.  It would be nice to know what the shape of the leaves are on your plant and I don't understand whether the leaves near the bottom are purple while the leaves near the top are green or whether the bottom side of each leaf is purple and the top side of the leaf is green.

Since the pokeweed didn't exactly match your description, I did a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database choosing "Florida" under Select State or Province and "Shrub" under Habit (general appearance) to find shrubs native to Florida.  I looked through the 160 results and didn't really see anything that matched your description.   You should try the same search and look at them yourself.  You can also do a similar search using "Tree" for the search term under Habit (general appearance)

There is a very good chance that your plant is not native.  Florida's climate is very conducive to growing tropical non-natives.  Your best bet for identification would be to take photos and then visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant forums that accept photos for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


American pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

American pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

American pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
July 31, 2010 - I have this shrub looking type plant with leaves that smell like lemons. The plant has a very small white flower on it. This shrub shows up in my yard every year in the summer. We are curious as to we...
view the full question and answer

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
view the full question and answer

Identification of riparian plant in Pennsylvania
June 05, 2013 - I'm wondering if this is a native plant: the plant is 3-5ft. tall, it has a tough reedy stalk, grows in sunny riparian areas, has whorled leaves with toothed margin, and has elongated clusters of tin...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from San Anselmo CA
June 12, 2012 - I have a spreading ground cover that no one has been able to ID in years of searching. I have taken photos of flower and foliage. I want to ID to try to improve site conditions and increase covera...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant purchased as desert willow
February 29, 2008 - Purchased a plant at Chappel Hill, Texas and was told it was a desert willow. The bloom cluster and pink color are very similar, but leaves resemble the wisteria. Very pretty. What is it? Can it be r...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center