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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.

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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.

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Monday - June 25, 2012

From: Maroa, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Tall lily with dark berry at leaf attachment
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A lily showed up in my flower garden last year (central Illinois); about 3' tall, a single dark berry at the stem where each leaf is attached. It didn't flower. This year it's approaching 4' tall and it's going to flower. Do you know what it is?

ANSWER:

Although the native Clintonia borealis (Bluebead) grows in Illinois, its bluebeads occur on stalks where the flowers occurred.

The plant you describe, however, is most likely an introduced ornamental from AsiaLilium lancifolium (Tiger lily)  [synonym = Lilium tigrinum].  This Asian native produces bulbils in leaf axils that are dark blue or black.  These bulbils can be used to propagate the species.  Here is more information about the stem bulbils and here are more photos and information.

 

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