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?


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

Tuesday - May 14, 2013

From: Laredo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Butterfly Gardens
Title: Identification of plant with small lilac flowers in Laredo
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Need help identifying the following: small lilac flowers in a cluster with seed pods, unpleasant scent which can be up to 3 feet tall ..wild flower or weed? am interested if it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies


It would help to know something more about the plant.   Is it a woody plant?  What sorts of leaves does it have?  What is its habitat?  Without that information it was difficult for me to feel that I had chosen plants that were similar to the one you found.  However, below are a few suggestions for plants with lilac-colored flowers that are native to Webb County.  Some of them are reported to have scents.  For the others I could find no information about the scent.  They range in size from about 1 foot to more than 5 feet.  If you found your plant in a flower bed or lawn, it is very likely it is not native to North America and is an imported cultivated plant and, as such, won't appear in our Native Plant Database.

Guajacum angustifolium (Texas lignum-vitae)   Here is more information from Aggie Horticulture.

Dalea pogonathera (Bearded dalea) is reported to smell like licorice if bruised.  Here are photos and more information

Astragalus nuttallianus (Nuttall's milkvetch)

Lippia alba (Bushy lippia) is strongly scented.  Here are more photos and information from Aggie Horticulture.

Lythrum californicum (California loosestrife)   Here are more photos and information from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and Southwest Environmental Information Network.

Pluchea odorata (Sweetscent)    Here are more photos and information.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

If your plant is one of these, the information about its attraction for butterflies and hummingbirds will be under the heading "Benefits".  Observation will also tell you if butterflies are attracted to it.

If none of these is your plant and you have photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several Plant Identification forums that accept photos for identification. 


From the Image Gallery

Texas lignum-vitae
Guaiacum angustifolium

Nuttall's milkvetch
Astragalus nuttallianus

California loosestrife
Lythrum californicum

Pluchea odorata

Leucophyllum frutescens

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Caterpillars eating passion vines from Austin
May 17, 2012 - My question concerns Yellow passion flower, purple passion vine & butterflies. I have had my passion vines for 3-4 years, each spring they start growing beautifully, then in 1-2 days are almost compl...
view the full question and answer

What would replace non-native orange tree leaves in butterfly hatchery?
July 17, 2009 - I have a very small orange tree that currently has dozens of caterpillars on it that look like bird droppings. I think I have narrowed them down to a swallowtail butterfly. I would love to let them ma...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly plants for Washington DC area
June 28, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am a teacher working with very young students to establish a wildlife garden. We received a donated butterfly bush of a smallish cultivar, but wondering if there is a native...
view the full question and answer

Creating a garden based on fragrance
May 04, 2012 - I would like to know which Fragrant Flowers are easy to grow and hearty for the climate i live in. Eastern part of washington state. Desert like in summer, warm summers.
view the full question and answer

Propagating milkweeds for a monarch butterfly habitat
November 02, 2009 - I am planting a monarch habitat in Burnet, Tx with Antelope horns, Green milkweed, and butterfly weed. Should I plant in fall or spring??? Should I use cold moist stratification for 3 months at 40...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center