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

Saturday - June 01, 2013

From: Theodore, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of tall plant with five-petaled purple flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently moved into a house and have a plant near my fence that has purple flowers with five petals and a somewhat thick stem, about a half inch. The leaves are sparse and it grows about four to six feet so far but I keep cutting it back because it wont attach to the fence, it just sort of grows up until it leans onto my driveway. It remind me of some morning glories I once had but I do not think the stems were that thick..almost like small branches and brown. Do you have any idea what it is?

ANSWER:

One candidate for your tall plant is the Mexican native Ruellia caerulea (Britton's wild petunia).  It has several synonyms:  e.g., Ruellia brittoniana (Mexican petunia), Ruellia simplex, Ruellia tweediana (Mexican petunia).  It is considered invasive in Texas and southeastern states.  It grows to about 3 feet tall.  Floridata says that it has strong semi-woody stems.

I did a COMBINATION SEARCH for other possibilities in our Native Plant Database, choosing "Alabama" from the Select State or Province option and "Blue", "Purple", and "Violet". from Bloom Color.  The only species I could find that were at all similar to your description were these three species of Ruellia.  None of them grow as tall as the Mexican petunia described above.  You should try the same search yourself in case I overlooked a plant that could be yours.

Ruellia caroliniensis (Carolina wild petunia)

Ruellia humilis (Fringeleaf wild petunia)

Ruellia strepens (Limestone ruellia)

There are two other databases that feature plants of Alabama and/or Southeastern wildflowers.   In both of these you can search by flower color.

Southeastern Flora

Alabama Plants

If your plant is not one of the plants listed above or you didn't find it in the plant databases listed above, you can photograph it and visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants to identify.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification of conifer-like low plant in Alabama
September 27, 2011 - When walking in woods of Alabama we found a plant that grows along the ground. looks like a conifer about 2 or 3 inches tall, has a trailing vine under the leaves and pops up little sprigs of greener...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Woodbury TN
July 07, 2009 - Please help identify this unusual plant. I am in Middle TN, Cannon County. This plant comes up every year and looks like something tropical. It has huge leaves about 16 + inches wide. and grows abo...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of tree with strawberry-like fruit
December 11, 2009 - On my walk home from work i noticed a red berry i had never seen before. It is soft like a strawberry, bumpy all over but the bumps are not individual as a raspberry has. It grows on a tall bush (very...
view the full question and answer

How to tell the difference between native and non-native thistles
March 13, 2013 - It's thistle time already. There are many plants in the aster family with thistle in their common name. Are "real" thistles only those in the genus Cirsium, or are there others as well? We are tryi...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Monotropa uniflora
August 09, 2007 - I found a peculiar flower in Nopoming Provincial Forest, Manitoba last weekend (August 4th). I found it growing in moss on top of rock (the Canadian shield). It was in shade. About 3 or 4 were clum...
view the full question and answer

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