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

Friday - August 10, 2012

From: Antelope, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of gourd plant growing in central California
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am not sure if this flowering plant is native to North America. It is found in dry land grazing fields at about 100 feet in elevation in central California. It is large--2-6 feet across with a sticky smelly substance on the hairy leaves, multiple yellow lipped bilateral flowers with a red throat on a stem. The cucumber/gourd like fruit I saw was immature, but was horn-shaped, quite bulbous at the stem end and pencil thin at the tip. I have photos, if that would help.

ANSWER:

My first thought was that you had found Cucurbita foetidissima (Stinking gourd), but the flower shape and the fruit shape are wrong.  They are, however, gourds and pretty stinky. 

We think what you saw was the non-native species, Ibicella lutea (Yellow unicorn-plant), a weed introduced from South America.  The flowers are the right shape, the young fruits are the correct shape and it has leaves covered with sticky hairs.  You can see that the fruits turn into a dramatic seed case with two formidable-looking claws.  Another common name for the plant is Devil's Claw.  Ibicella lutea is closely related to several, closely-related North American native plant species classified in the genus, Proboscidea, including the very similar, Proboscidea althaeifolia.

If this doesn't happen to be the plant you saw, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that accept photos of plants for identification.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
May 30, 2012 - 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 th...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 30, 2007 - We found this plant or something or other in our yard, in the area we found it usually stays wet and it was behind a old tree that was done. It has three big green leaves with a white stem that kind ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of maroon flower taking over bluebonnets
April 14, 2008 - there is a maroon colored flowering weed at my ranch in Oakwood Texas. It is taking over the bluebonnets and indian paint brushes. Can you tell me what it is and how to get rid of it.
view the full question and answer

Florida hanging vine with occasional red tongue-like leaves
December 01, 2011 - I live in south Florida and I used to grow a hanging vine that had green slender leaves and an occasional red leaf that looked like a tongue that protruded horizontally from the plant. do you know wha...
view the full question and answer

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
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