En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plant identification

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

Wednesday - May 30, 2012

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I had a strange plant pop up in my yard this year, and I figured maybe you guys could help me out. This plant is spreading along the ground, and the stem is woody right where it is coming out of the ground. It has complex leaflets, and I'm not sure if I'm using the terminology correctly, but I mean that the stems have little stems coming off of them that are covered in neat little leaflets. At first I thought it was some kind of fern, but then it started pushing up separate stems with a spiky little ball on the end of them, and in the course of a few days, all of those little spikes starting opening up into little flowers about an eighth of an inch long. They apparently pollinated, because now the plant has slightly curved seedpods growing up from the plant that kind of resemble claws, and some of them are already two inches long. The leaflets fold up at night and during the day when the sun is hitting it directly. The little plant is growing in a little area that is shaded for most of the day.

ANSWER:

From your description your plant sound like one of the species of Desmanthus.  According to the USDA Plant Database there are 3 species that occur in or adjacent to Tarrant County.  You can see the county distribution for each of those below by clicking on Texas on its distribution map.

Desmanthus illinoensis (Illinois bundleflower)

Desmanthus leptolobus (Slenderlobe bundleflower) and here are photos and more information.

Desmanthus velutinus (Velvet bundleflower) and here are more photos.

We think the most likely identity for your plant is Desmanthus velutinus (Velvet bundleflower).   The Illinois bundleflower seed pods are very curved even when young and green and the fruits of D. leptolobus is usually not as indented as those of D. velutinus.

 

From the Image Gallery


Illinois bundleflower
Desmanthus illinoensis

Illinois bundleflower
Desmanthus illinoensis

Velvet bundleflower
Desmanthus velutinus

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant called beargrass from Granbury, TX
September 24, 2011 - I am not a native Texan. We have a clump of what my husband (from Big Spring) calls "Bear Grass." It is over to the side of our yard and we have always enjoyed it (moved here in 1982). It blooms ...
view the full question and answer

Visual difference between Strophostyles umbellata and S. helvola
September 06, 2012 - I know that Strophostyles umbellata is perennial and S. helvola is an annual, but can you tell me how to visibly distinquish between S. umbellata and S. helvola.
view the full question and answer

Identity of shrub growing wild in Austin Texas area
September 23, 2013 - Hi! I need help identifying a bush growing wild in my area. I have pictures of leaves fruit and bark. I cant find a good place to post these in order to ID plant. I'm in Austin TX area. Thank...
view the full question and answer

Dfferences between Argemone arizonica and other Argemones
October 27, 2005 - I am trying to find information about the differences between the Argemone arizonica which grows only in the Grand Canyon and the other Argemones which grow in the rest of the U.S. Do you have any...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 04, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I have a plant that was given to me and told it was spider plant, but I don't believe it is. The plat grows up and has leaves coming out like a spider plant but they are gree...
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