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

Tuesday - April 24, 2012

From: Williamsville, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of plant with purple flower and tomato-like fruit
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Along the Lake Erie shoreline in Buffalo there is a summer blooming plant with a purple flower and hard flattened tomato like fruit, diameter of a quarter. It has pretty small green leaves with fine ridges/teeth. We have photos that we'll try to attach. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

This sounds like the North American native, Solanum carolinense (Carolina horse-nettle).  Here are more photos and information from Connecticut Wildflowers, Missouri Plants and from the USDA Plants Database.  On the USDA Plants Database, if you click on New York, you can see the county distribution for the state.

A non-native introduced species, Solanum dulcamara (Climbing nightshade), is also a possibility.  Here are more photos and information from Missouri Plants.

As you learned, you can't attach photos to your question on Mr. Smarty Plants.  We can no longer accept photos for identification because we were completely overwhelmed with requests and we do not have adequate staff or volunteers to try to identify all the requests we received. We do, however, have links to several plant identifcation forums on our Plant Identification page that will accept photos for identification.

Also, you can try a search in our Native Plant Database using the COMBINATION SEARCH option and entering "New York" in the Select State or Province box, "Herb" in the Habit (general appearance), and select "Purple" and "Violet" under Bloom Color.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Carolina horse-nettle
Solanum carolinense

Carolina horse-nettle
Solanum carolinense

More Plant Identification Questions

Wildflower in southeastern Pennsylvania
May 20, 2008 - I live in southeastern Pennsylvania and want to identify a wild flower that is common along small town and rural roads and highways. It is blooming now (Mid May), has a flower spike similar to a larks...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication for Roosevelt Park, NY
August 28, 2009 - Looking for the name and chemical breakdown of a tree. Its leaves are green with heart like puffs blooming out. This tree was seen at Roosevelt Park, Long Island NY 11575
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Rigin TX
August 18, 2010 - I have noticed a low growing plant with slick geranium shaped leaves. Today (August 17) I found a tiny- about half inch five sided pod on it. Each side is shaped like a heart! Have not noticed any f...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of chenille-like plant in Florida
July 27, 2011 - I live in Central Florida. I have a small, 8-10 inch plant that grows wild in the yard and has a 1 to 1-1/2 inch, bright red, feathery flower on it. I can't seem to find it on the internet and I'm ...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Cold Lake AB
August 03, 2012 - How can I send a picture for you to help me identify a plant that grows in my garden that no one can seem to identify? I have taken a picture of it but can't seem to be able to attach it to this que...
view the full question and answer

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