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

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

White powder on non-native houseplants from Fort Davis TX
February 11, 2011 - I have a white powder on my houseplants that I can't figure out what it is or what to do about it? (Dracaena & Corn plants) Could be a fungus can you help? (can send a photo if you will tell me how t...
view the full question and answer

Non-flowering mimosas in Texas
July 08, 2008 - I have two mimosa trees, about 3 years old. Both were grown from volunteer seedlings. Neither have flowers nor have they produced seed pods. Are they too young or do they need a source of pollenation...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Spicewood TX
March 20, 2013 - I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda G...
view the full question and answer

Water for non-native Sub-Zero ivy in El Paso
March 25, 2011 - Sub-Zero Ivy: Do they require lots of water - I live El Paso, TX - dry climate. Are they dangerous to dogs? Will they do well as ground cover around a brick patio? - Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Spacing of non-native crapemyrtle in Anniston AL
August 04, 2009 - We bought some Dazzle dwarf crepe myrtle bushes. We need to know how far apart to plant them. Thanks
view the full question and answer

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