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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

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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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Sweetscent
Pluchea odorata

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

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