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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Monday - May 14, 2012

From: Nemo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of bluebonnet-like flower
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have discovered a plant that looks like a bluebonnet but is much larger. It has leggy stems and similar leaf structure and the bonnet in more compact with purple vs blue flowers. The plant is growing 6 miles east of Glen Rose, Texas near the tiny town of Nemo, Texas. I do have photos of the plant but I cannot download them here at my office. I will be happy to forward them to you from home.

ANSWER:

There are several possibilities for your flower in Somervell County.   I think most likely it is one of the species of Pediomelum:

Pediomelum cuspidatum (Indian-turnip)

Pediomelum latestipulatum var. latestipulatum (Texas plains indian breadroot)

Pediomelum cyphocalyx (Turniproot)

Pediomelum esculentum (Large indian breadroot) and here are more photos and information from Kansas Wildflowers & Grasses.

Pediomelum hypogaeum var. scaposum (Subterranean indian breadroot)

There are a couple of species of Lupinus that are very remote possibilities, but neither has been reported in or near Somervell County.  They are:

Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine) is a possibility but it's normal distribution is southeast Texas on the Louisiana border and in states and Canadian province east and north of there.

The distribution of Lupinus plattensis (Dune bluebonnet) includes the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.

Two species of Astragalus have flowers that resemble bluebonnets, but their leaf shape is different.

Astragalus mollissimus (Purple locoweed)

Astragalus emoryanus (Emory's milkvetch)

If you don't think that one of the above is the flower you saw, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that accept photos for identification.   We are sorry but we no longer accept photos of plants to identify because we lack the staff and volunteers to handle the volume of requests we once received.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indian-turnip
Pediomelum cuspidatum

Texas plains indian breadroot
Pediomelum latestipulatum var. latestipulatum

Turniproot
Pediomelum cyphocalyx

Large indian breadroot
Pediomelum esculentum

Subterranean indian breadroot
Pediomelum hypogaeum var. scaposum

Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

Nebraska lupine
Lupinus plattensis

Woolly locoweed
Astragalus mollissimus

Emory's milkvetch
Astragalus emoryanus

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