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 21, 2013

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Identification of red-topped grass blooming in Comal County
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Comal County and right now (mid May) there is a beautiful, red topped grass growing along the side of country roads. It is maybe 1 foot tall, and waves in the breeze. Do you know what kind of grass it might be?


The highest probability is Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn).  It is truly beautiful and native. 

Another possibility is Bothriochloa ischaemum (King Ranch bluestem), an invasive species native Africa, Asia and Europe that is growing along highways near Austin right now.


From the Image Gallery

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID from New York
September 02, 2008 - I have a large leaf from a plant that my grandfather has. We live in Niagara county NY. The large leaf is green and has a red stem, growing on a stalk THICK like a sunflower, now has red or black berr...
view the full question and answer

Does goldenball leadtree (Leucaena retusa) have thorns?
July 26, 2010 - I have a plant that I am told is a native Texas plant, but the person I got it from could not remember its name. They said it was very hardy and drought tolerant. It looks a little like goldenball lea...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant that looks like a spider plant
February 25, 2008 - Okay Mr. Smarty Pants, I have an identification for you. I have no pictures, but I've been staring at this plant for weeks trying to figure out what it is. I got it as a cutting from a friend who got...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 29, 2008 - Greetings, Sir/Madam! What is the name of that weed that grows ubiquitously in St. Augustine, Fl (literally overnight when it rains) and has two skinny "arms", with little greenish beads on the arm...
view the full question and answer

Identifying plant
October 21, 2007 - What plant is usually found growing in low-lying freshwater marshy places with a single, straight-stemmed plant that grows to about one-to-two feet in height. The branches and leaves are sparse with ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center