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

Identification of tree blooming in Austin with yellow balls
March 21, 2012 - What is the tree/large shrub that is blooming now (mid-March) in the Austin area? It has small mesquite-type leaves, round yellow balls with fuzz on them and is fragrant. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 31, 2010 - I have this shrub looking type plant with leaves that smell like lemons. The plant has a very small white flower on it. This shrub shows up in my yard every year in the summer. We are curious as to we...
view the full question and answer

E-mailing a picture for Plant ID from Dexter KY
June 25, 2012 - Could I email a picture of a vine that is taking over my porch? Can't seem to find it anywhere. It is dark green and relatively shiny with 10 leaves on each stem.
view the full question and answer

Identification of Verbesina occidentalis (Yellow crownbeard) in Burnet County TX
November 23, 2015 - Looked up (small) yellow crownbeard..yellow, no description or pic. Csn you tell me if this is what is in this pic? THX! Can't insert a pic to say y/n. 😟it's in Burnet, Co..SE of Marble Fal...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly chile pequin
September 17, 2008 - Found in my back yard a plant about 18 inches tall. it has tiny white 5 petal flowers and small (smaller than a pea) fuits. The fruits smell just like bell pepper. My nose itched after smelling it. ...
view the full question and answer

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