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
1 rating

Monday - September 03, 2012

From: Eminence, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Identity of plant in Kentucky with fuzzy grayish-green leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to know about a plant that I do not know what it is. I had this plant just come up in my flowerbed, that looked like a tobacco plant but the leaves looked like a lambs ear plant. It was grayish green color with fuzz on the leaves. It grew tall with flowers on top. When they died off I pull them up and got a bad itchy red bumpy rash. I had to go to the doctor twice to get rid of it. It has come up since and if I touch it I get the rash back. Would you have any idea what this is, someone told me it was Indian tobacco? Thanks Lisa Willhite

ANSWER:

This sounds to me like Verbascum thapsus (mullein).  It is a native of Europe and Asia but the distribution map from the USDA shows it appearing all over North America.  The webpage for Plants for a Future and the Botanical Dermatology Database say that the hairs from the leaves can be an irritant.  It is considered a noxious weed in Hawaii and Colorado and the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group has it on their Least Wanted list.

If this isn't the plant you found in your garden, you could take photos and then 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
June 12, 2014 - We live in Magnolia TX and have a shrub we can't identify. It's evergreen and has waxy leaves with a serrated edge that are about an inch in length. They have pink flowers and they grow to ab...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
April 04, 2010 - There's a wildflower growing on my patio its leaves look like the leaves of a lute leaf sage, it has a flower stalk with yellow flowers. The stalk is about a one foot high. What is the name of it?
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant from childhood
April 23, 2011 - I am trying to locate and identify a plant from my childhood (I'm 65). It was either a small tree or possibly a tree formed hedge like plant. It had small roundish leaves scattered on tiny limbs simi...
view the full question and answer

Report on object glowing in tree in New Hampshire
August 04, 2013 - Hello again Mr Smartpants. I commented about a purple glow coming from a tree in previous comments. Since then they have multiplied and are spreading to different trees. We believe we may have it narr...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
October 09, 2008 - I have a random flower growing out of my rabbit's grave and I can not identify it. Nothing like it grows around us and I didn't plant anything there. The petals are white. There are five of them. Th...
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