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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 20, 2012

From: Oakley, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Identity of mint impersonator in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is there such a thing as a mint "impersonator"? There are random 'sprigs' of purple-stemmed, bright green leaf plants in my front yard. We just moved in to the house and I don't want to assume it's mint without checking with someone first.

ANSWER:

There are lots of members of the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family) and they all share the characteristics of a square stem and opposite, simple leaves.  Many of them are aromatic.  You can see native California members of the Family Lamiaceae if you select "Lamiaceae" from the Family: list on our Native Plant Database page and then use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH on that list to choose "California" from the Select State or Province option.  You can then see the more than 50 species listed on the list.  There are, of course, introduced members of the mint family and your description reminds me of one of those, Lamium purpureum (Purple dead-nettle), a native of Eurasia.  Here are more photos and information from Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide, Illinois Wildflowers and Connecticut Botanical Society.  The Southern Weed Science Society lists this plant on its Weeds of the United States and Canada and it is also included in T. D. Whitson's Weeds of the West

If neither this Lamium purpureum (Purple dead-nettle) nor one of the plants from the native California Lamiaceae is the plant in your yard, take photos of it and submit them to one of the plant identifcation forums for identification.   You can find links to several of these plant identification forums on our Plant Identification page.

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Lantana in hanging basket not blooming in Dover PA
June 23, 2010 - We have a lantana Bandana trailing gold in a hanging planter in full sun. It hardly blooms. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Why is Common Horehound missing from NPIN?
March 27, 2014 - Hi there, I am not able to find Marrubium vulgare, i.e. Common or White Horehound, in the Native Plant Database. It grows abundantly on our ranch in Central Texas, and I am attempting to grow i...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Pink Jasmine from Austin
March 23, 2011 - A week or so ago, I purchased two beautiful pink jasmine vines. The first few days after planting, they did wonderful. Now, some leaves and stems are turning brown and some flowers have fallen off. ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, care for Jade plant.
June 22, 2009 - I've had a jade plant for 5 years and it has done well, even though it was in a plastic pot with regular soil. I need to repot it and it was recommended I use a clay pot and a soil made for succulen...
view the full question and answer

Flowering landscape plants for Montgomery TX
March 07, 2013 - Hello I live in Montgomery TX. I am looking for low growing evergreen flowering plants for the front of my three deep beds. The first plant closest to the foundation is loropetalum, then I have a blue...
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