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?

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

Plant identification
August 24, 2008 - Please help us identify a woodland plant whose fruiting stem looks very similar to a corncob stuck into the ground, pointy end up. It sticks up about 4-5" above the ground. The largish pale yellow fr...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 27, 2011 - I have a plant my Dad had found years ago. Last of April a stem with bulb shaped bottom. May 6-stem opened and folded back exposing spotted inside of leaf. Bottom had yellow pollen? and green stem 2+ ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of wild plum in Childress County, Texas
March 16, 2015 - I have a Wild Plum follow up question. My wife grew up around the Childress TX area. She remembers going around the creeks and gathering Wild Plums for her mother as a child. Would you have any ide...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 10, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My neighbor gave me a plant that is about 3 foot tall, has a main stalk, and leaves that produce small “baby” plants at the edge of the leaves. These plants grow roots and once dev...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 24, 2010 - Purchased foliage plant - no one knows its name. Leaves (stems) are bright green and 10" tall. Has "babies" like a spider plant but leaves (stems) are wider and thicker. Has a "rib" to them in...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center