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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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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

 

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