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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!

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Tuesday - January 15, 2013

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Edible Plants
Title: Red berry that changes the taste of other foods
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, your site is fantastic. I heard from a friend that he tried a red berry in Florida which when eaten change the taste of other foods eaten afterwards. He ate a lemon after trying that berry and the lemon tasted sweet. Thank you in advance for the answer

ANSWER:

When I read your question I thought to myself "That's going to be a tough one!"   As it turns out, my very first Google search ("red berry changes taste") brought up this article from the NY Times, May 28, 2008, The Miracle Fruit, a Tease for the Taste Buds.  The article describes the effects of eating a West African fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum.  There are several common names, e.g., Miracle Fruit and Miracle Berry, and there is a Florida company that is promoting and selling the fruit and products made from it as Dulci Berry.  Apparently, the fruit itself doesn't have a particularly appealing taste, but it contains a protein called miraculin that binds to the tongue and makes sour substances taste sweet.  You can read more about the effect in Miracle Fruit Sensation Is a Trip for Taste Buds, Not Brain, Scientists Say from the April 1, 2009 Cornell Daily Sun.  You can also find more sources of information on the internet by searching using its scientific name or one of its common names.

 

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