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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Strappy leaves on rudbeckias from Houston
October 31, 2013 - My Rudbeckias keep sending up odd shoots with strappy leaves on them. Should these be cut off? What is their purpose?
view the full question and answer

Drought Tolerant Shrubs and Perennials in San Jose, CA
July 18, 2013 - Hello I am a SLT home owner in San Jose, Ca. and want to plant drought tolerant shrubs and perennials. We don't have irrigation but plan to put a timer on a nozzle and run some lines. At least I am t...
view the full question and answer

Care for Blackfoot daisy?
June 05, 2009 - Hi, I have two blackfoot daisies and one has died. I've planted them in full sun on a well drained slope. Do these ususally die after blooming? Should I cut the other one back? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Flowering plant for hillside in Brookings OR
April 16, 2009 - We live on the Chetco river and the bank in front of the house is on a hill. What would be a flowering plant that would maintain the integrity of the hill?
view the full question and answer

Plants for under non-native fruitless mullberry trees from Ft. Worth TX
June 28, 2012 - I live in Tarrant county, where summer droughts are the norm. I have a 150x50 foot swathe of mature "fruitless mulberry" trees, which create a very shady atmosphere. The soil is clay dominated, ro...
view the full question and answer

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