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

Thursday - October 04, 2012

From: Dinwiddie, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a plant saprophytic on oaks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is name of plant poking up through the leaves near base of oak tree that appears as a cluster of yellow-brown stalks that resemble small pinecones or pineapples or cobs of corn?

ANSWER:

This sounds like Conopholis americana (American cancer-root), a saprophytic plant that feeds on the roots of oak trees.   Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers and from Plants of Wisconsin.  Here are photos from Southwest Virginia Flora.

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

 

From the Image Gallery


American cancer-root
Conopholis americana

American cancer-root
Conopholis americana

American cancer-root
Conopholis americana

More Plant Identification Questions

Vine with 5 pointed deep lobed leaves and small white flowers
June 21, 2015 - I recently happened upon a very peculiar vine. It has 5 pointed very deep lobed leaves, that are semi hairy on both the top and bottom with small white flowers that emerge from the same part of the st...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
October 12, 2008 - I found gorgeous berries on a tree or large bush (about 10 feet tall) and clipped a little cluster the size of my hand. There are 6 or more, starting the size of a blueberry in lime green and growing ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant in SE Georgia
May 06, 2009 - Identity of a plant- This plant is growing wild in SE GA, but I have never seen it before until this year. The plant has a stolon "root" system it forms an upright stem and a cluster of flowers begi...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree bought from a magazine ad
August 11, 2013 - I recently submitted the following question to Ask An Expert. They were unable to identify the plant. I hope you will be able to. Can you help me by either identifying this plant or advising me a...
view the full question and answer

Tree with light-colored bark, thorns and long white clumps of flowers
August 18, 2015 - I bought a tree at the LBJWC plant sale a couple years ago but lost the name of the tree. I'm finally ready to plant it in the ground and would like to learn more about what its needs are. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center