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 Plant Identification Questions

Want to know the name of a string looking moss in OR.
August 02, 2011 - I want to know the name of a string looking moss or Licha that grows on pine trees? Thought was old mans whiskers, but this search brings up a flower; not what I am looking for. I found some in Glacie...
view the full question and answer

Name of algae on ground that swells after a rain
March 12, 2009 - What is the name of the algae looking stuff on the ground that swells up after rain. I thought it was "nostock" but I can't locate that name anywhere. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 25, 2009 - I found a low-growing plant with thick spoon shaped light green leaves. It was growing in the edged of a lawn, The leaves almost look like they have fine white hairs on them. It is very pretty, but wh...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on epiphytes
February 20, 2003 - Can you identify the "air plants" that are hanging in the trees? They are grayish-green, and hang down like a necklace.
view the full question and answer

Identification of an Australian tree.
November 29, 2007 - i have a tree i cant seem to find any info on, the tree has large almost heart shaped leaves with pinkish veins running through them, its not shiney anywhere, sort of a mat finish,the edges of the lea...
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