En Español

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?


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
4 ratings

Sunday - September 02, 2012

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Is Talinum paniculatum native to Central Texas?
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


I just bought a plant in Austin called Talinum paniculatum, Jewels of Opar. We are adamant about growing only local natives in the yard so it will have to be a potted plant unless you can verify it's credentials. USDA says it is native to central Texas, but I have never seen it and NPIN does not list it. Thanks.


The USDA Plants Database lists Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar) as a native plant and their distribution map shows it occurring in Travis County.  That doesn't necessarily mean it is native to Travis County.  You will notice on the distribution map of Texas that it is concentrated along the Gulf Coast and in the south and west along the Texas and Mexican border.  It is native to Central and South America as well as the West Indies according to eFloras.org which also lists it as being native west of the Mississippi River.  You can see a line drawing on the eFloras site and photos and more information on the Southwest Environmental Information Network.  If the plant you bought looks like these illustrations, then I would say that you will be fine putting it in your yard.  However, it is our understanding that it can be somewhat aggressive in the garden.  This might influence your decision about whether you keep it in the pot or put it in your garden.

Although we do strive to have all native plants in our Native Plant Database, this is one that didn't make it in.  Our Native Plant Database was created by collating a number of existing databases that we had created or that were donated to us.  Since then, we have steadily built the database by adding species as time and resources allow.  We usually don't add species records to the database until we have one or more images of the species to make the record more useful to the public.  Somehow, Jewels of Opar was never been included in any of our source databases and we've never received any pictures of it.  So it's one of those Texas natives that we have yet to treat, though we will certainly do that when we acquire good imagery of it.  If you would like to contribute images of your newly-acquired plant, please visit our Contribute Images page to read instructions for submission of photos.


More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of red lily-like blossom in Austin, TX
September 21, 2012 - Rain at last in Austin! The rain lilies are up, but wait, what on earth is this? Lily like, 6 petals, but a cluster of 6 stalks w/blood red blooms slightly larger than our rain lilies - Off under a ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vine growing in Naples Florida
September 15, 2014 - I live on country/residential property outside of Naples, Florida. This year I have had dozens of seedlings of some type of vine popping up all over. I have posted on a couple plant blogs looking for ...
view the full question and answer

Purple wildflowers near Lake Tahoe
November 30, 2009 - I have been tasked with a challenge to find the plant that is "dark purple wild flowers at Lake Tahoe and are a magnificent thing to see in the fall. Interestingly, these wild mountain lake flowers w...
view the full question and answer

Identity of fast growing vine in San Francisco
March 20, 2016 - Really need to know what kind of vine is growing rapidly in the garden. Can't find out in plant identification: started to grow profusely after rainfall. Grows at rate of 6-8" per day (!). Has ivy-l...
view the full question and answer

What is the correct genus name for Fringe flower in North Myrtle Beach, SC?
September 14, 2010 - Is it Laura Pedlum or lorapetalum? I saw this shrub last week, and finally found a picture of it. The search engine listed about three different names for it! So what is the correct name, and does i...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center