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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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Tuesday - February 05, 2013

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant with red beans Catalina Mts., Arizona
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

While hiking at the base of the Catalina Mts. near Tucson in Jan., I came across a plant, the pods of which were open, displaying a bright red bean. I took some of the beans to plant in my yard. I was wondering if you could tell me what plant this is? Thank you.

ANSWER:

On the Catalina State Park web page under "Science" I was able to find a link to a list of Plants of Catalina State Park.  Your description of a plant with pods and red beans led me to the Family Fabaceae (Pea Family) on the list.  From that list, I think the most likely candidate is Erythrina flabelliformis (Chilicote).  Here are photos and more information from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

For future reference, if you are asking for an identification, it would be helpful to have more information about the size and type of plant.  For instance, did the beans come from a woody plant or an herbaceous one?  What was the size of the plant?  Was it a small tree or a shrub?  Did it have leaves?   If so, what did they look like?  Did the plant have thorns or any other unusual features?

 

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