Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 20, 2013

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Identity of a yellow-flowered wildflower with prickly burs
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi there. We have seen a wildflower, probably invasive, that is at least in Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties. We have tried to identify it without success, The structure of the plant is remarkably similar to Malta Starthistle, but the yellow flower is daisy-like, not brushy like a thistle. The plant has horrific little burs with spikes, again like Malta Starthistle, but with shorter spikes. They are a serious enemy to barefoot people. They seem to like disturbed areas along roadsides in full sun. I never saw them five years ago when I bought my land north of Jonestown, and now they are everywhere. Any help would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

For purposes of comparison, here is a link to Centaurea melitensis (Malta star-thistle), a native of Africa and Europe.

Here are a couple of possibilities for the plant you are seeing:

Solanum rostratum (Buffalobur nightshade) is a Central Texas native.  It has spines on its stems and spiny burs as seed cases.

Tribulus terrestris (Puncturevine) is native to southern Europe, southern Asia, Africa and Australia.  The spines are short and stout and can puncture bicycle tires! Here are photos and more information from Texas Invasives and University of California Integrated Pest Management.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalobur nightshade
Solanum rostratum

Buffalobur nightshade
Solanum rostratum

Buffalobur nightshade
Solanum rostratum

Buffalobur nightshade
Solanum rostratum

More Plant Identification Questions

Need an ID on a wisteria in Austin
October 12, 2010 - I bought a different type wisteria several years ago, before I started trying to grow native plants. It is the same type wisteria as the one planted at Threadgills on Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX....
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
April 26, 2009 - My brother in law just bought a parcel of land that is bespeckled with shrubs we cannot identify. The land is located in south west Michigan. It is zoned agricultural. Due to the fact that it is ea...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Bidens aristosa (Tickseed sunflower) in Texas
November 20, 2015 - I think the ID of the plant I submitted a description of yesterday is Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant similar to Lindheimer's senna (Senna lindheimeriana)
October 27, 2011 - I purchased "Lindheimer's Senna" at our MG plant sale in Williamson Co. two years ago. My three plants are now 6 ft. tall but I don't think they are Lindheimers. I've searched your plant files ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of artichoke-like plant in Idaho
May 13, 2013 - 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 pu...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.