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

Monday - May 13, 2013

From: Boise, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of artichoke-like plant in Idaho
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

There is a plant/weed growing in the front yard, my mom says it is a flower I say a weed. It looks a lot like an open artichoke and is the same size. It is green except on the tips where it is deep purple. I have searched high and low and can't figure out what it is. Please help! Thank you

ANSWER:

Cynara scolymus, the edible globe artichoke, is a native of the Mediterranean and introduced here as a food plant.  Here are more photos and information from Plants for a Future.  It is a type of thistle.  There  is also Cynara cardunculus (cardoon), its wild introduced relative.  Here are more photos and information from Plants for a Future.

There are other thistles that occur in Idaho.  The native ones in the genus Cirsium are:

Cirsium brevistylum (Clustered thistle) and here are photos of the plant from CalPhotos University of California-Berkeley.

Cirsium canescens (Prairie thistle)

Cirsium edule (Edible thistle)

Cirsium flodmanii (Flodman's thistle)

Cirsium foliosum (Elk thistle)

Cirsium scariosum (Meadow thistle) and here are photos from Southwest Colorado Wildflowers.

There are four thistles that are classified as noxious weeds in Idaho.  They are Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle), Carduus nutans (musk thistle), Onopordum acanthium (Scotch thistle), and Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow starthistle)—all are Eurasian imports.

Here are more photos and information on:  Canada thistle from the National Park Service, Musk thistle from Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group "Least Wanted". and   Scotch thistle from Texas Invasives.

Perhaps your flower/weed is one of the native or introduced thistles.  If you have photographs of it and don't recognize it in the ones I've suggested above, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that accept photos of plants for identification.

Now, whether it is a wildflower or a weed is up to individual interpretation—one person's weed is another's wildflower!

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Smarty Plants on Smoke Tree
July 11, 2005 - I live in Indianapolis Indiana and there is this wonderful tree on my street which has the most unusual flowers that I've ever seen. They look like pink and white fiber optics. Spencer gift stores us...
view the full question and answer

Mystery tree with yellow fruit in MN
November 12, 2012 - There is a tree at my workplace, about 8' tall, with small, pea-sized yellow berries right now (Oct. 2012). The berries are attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and the tree has small leaves that are simple...
view the full question and answer

Identification of possible wild plums thickets
May 19, 2008 - I have several "thickets" of small shrub/bushes on my land that I hunt on. These small trees are usually 5-7 feet tall, always grow in thickets of ten to up to sixty or so bushes. They are always lo...
view the full question and answer

Identification of purple wildflower shaped like a bottle rocket
June 19, 2013 - Dear Smarty Plants, the other day while driving north on 281 from San Antonio I noticed a purple wildflower that was shaped sort of like a bottle rocket, seemed to have leaves similar to verbena and ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 07, 2010 - There are large trees with brilliant orange flowers around Naples FL. Can you tell me what this is?
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