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

Thursday - May 24, 2012

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Fiber and dye plants at the Wildflower Center from Round Rock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Julie Marcus

QUESTION:

When I visited the Wildflower Center recently I noticed a garden labeled as containing fiber and dye plants, but the individual plants and their uses were not all labeled. I would be very interested to know what all the plants were and their fiber and dye applications. There was a variety of flax, for example - is the native variety ever made into linen as European flax is? The goldenrod I'm guessing was included as a dye plant, but there was also Mexican Hat and I'd like to know what dye or fiber-producing application that has. Also Indian Blanket - what does that do?

ANSWER:

Very kindly provided to Mr. Smarty Plant by Julie Marcus, on our Horticultural Staff, here is a list of what is presently in our Fiber and Dye Plants garden display. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn about its growing conditions, etc. Often, under Benefits on that page, medicinal or edibility will be discussed. Go down that webpage to the bottom, under Additional Resources, and click on "Google:Search Google for (plant name)." This will give you pages and pages of possible references on the uses of the plants.

Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm)

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel)

Abutilon fruticosum (Indian mallow)

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (Four-nerve daisy)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Solidago nemoralis (Gray goldenrod)

Glandularia bipinnatifida (Purple prairie verbena)

Linum lewisii (Wild blue flax)

Dasylirion wheeleri (Common sotol)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Clematis drummondii (Drummond's clematis)

As an example, you asked about the use of Linum lewisii (Wild blue flax) for fiber. Turns out that another species of the genus Linum, Linum usitatatissum, is the one used for fibre. This article from Purdue will tell you many different uses of the plant for medicinal, edibilty, and fiber. It will also tell you that the species is native from the eastern Meditteranean to India, and was used by many ancient cultures. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America, but also to the areas where they grow natively, so that particular Linum will not be found in our Native Plant Database. We found no indication that our native flax had any fiber uses.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Indian mallow
Abutilon fruticosum

Four-nerve daisy
Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa

Berlandier's sundrops
Calylophus berlandieri

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida

Wild blue flax
Linum lewisii

Common sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Engelmann's daisy
Engelmannia peristenia

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Old man's beard
Clematis drummondii

More Medicinal Plants Questions

Are Viguiera dentate leaves toxic to dogs?
November 26, 2014 - Many dogs on the Turkey Creek Nature Trail in Emma Long Metropolitan Park love to snack on the leaves of the Viguiera Dentata plants. The leaves SEEM to be harmless. I am writing to request informat...
view the full question and answer

List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area
September 15, 2011 - Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants that grew here before cultivation, eradication or...
view the full question and answer

Lippia alba for sale at Wildflower Center
June 09, 2013 - Do you have this plant for sale Lippia Alba. thanks
view the full question and answer

Occurrence and uses of Bottle Gentian in the Great Smoky Mountains Nat. Park
December 30, 2008 - In mid October of 2008 I was at the Gilliland Cemetery in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Cosby, TN. I found several flowers blooming which completely surprised me due to the time of year. I...
view the full question and answer

Plants good for repelling bugs in Austin, TX
April 18, 2007 - I need help on what type of plants or herbs are good for keeping bugs away from the house and also something that would be good for in the house for bugs?
view the full question and answer

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