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
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


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.


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

Plant identification
March 09, 2009 - green stemmed,whorled leaf,compound leaf, ovate shaped, hairy stemmed thing is fastly taking over my sandy rocked based soil cactus garden. what could it be? i bought my garden in florida
view the full question and answer

Plant identification request from Wales, United Kingdom
November 17, 2011 - I have a plant that has green and pink leaves and the flowers are dry but are like fingers on a hand. The leaves drop down when it needs watering, which is every other day, and the finger shaped clust...
view the full question and answer

Is Tagetes lemmonii a Texas native?
July 15, 2008 - Is the Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) a native Texas plant?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification from Prairie Village KS
August 25, 2012 - My friend has identified this plant as a Horseweed. It is 3 1/2 to 4 feet tall. Has a thick, fuzzy single stem. Linear leaves, about 3/4 inch across and 3 or 4 inches long with one or two notches on e...
view the full question and answer

Florida hanging vine with occasional red tongue-like leaves
December 01, 2011 - I live in south Florida and I used to grow a hanging vine that had green slender leaves and an occasional red leaf that looked like a tongue that protruded horizontally from the plant. do you know wha...
view the full question and answer

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