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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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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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.

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Friday - November 02, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Wildflowers
Title: Identity of sunflower
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am not able to find how to post a picture to help you identify a plant on our campus. I believe the plant I am trying to identify is a rough sunflower. (Helianthus hirsutus) We have zexmenia as well but these are different. Could you let me know how I can send a picture to help you identify the plant. thanks


Mr. Smarty Plants is very sorry, but we no longer are able to accept photos of plants for identification.  We were overwhelmed with submissions and do not have sufficient staff and/or volunteers to handle all of them.  There are, however, on our Plant Identification page links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

Have you checked the Helianthus hirsutus (Hairy sunflower) page in our Native Plant Database?  If you will scroll to the bottom of the page on this species page, you will find a segment called ADDITIONAL RESOURCES.  You can click on the USDA link to find information in the USDA Plants Database.   If you click on the FNA (Flora of North America) link, it will lead you to a detailed description of the species; and, if you click on the Google link, you will find entries from other sources about the species with photos and more descriptions.

Additionally, you can access Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas on line and find, beginning on page 368, a description of the Helianthus spp. that are found in Central Texas.  There are line drawings to accompany them.

Here some other sunflower-like plants that are in bloom around Austin right now that could potentially be confused with Helianthus hirsutus:

Viguiera dentata (Sunflower goldeneye)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)


From the Image Gallery

Hairy sunflower
Helianthus hirsutus

Hairy sunflower
Helianthus hirsutus

Hairy sunflower
Helianthus hirsutus

Hairy sunflower
Helianthus hirsutus

Plateau goldeneye
Viguiera dentata

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Plateau goldeneye
Viguiera dentata

Stiff sunflower
Helianthus pauciflorus ssp. pauciflorus

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