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?

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
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

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

Distinguishing non-native Wisteria from Austin
June 25, 2012 - How do I distinguish a native wisteria from a non-native wisteria?
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
August 15, 2008 - My father-in-law received seeds from a friend-- he didn't know what kind of plant it would grow. Now he questions what kind of plant it is-- it has a red stalk and 17 inch leaves, it appears to grow...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
May 24, 2009 - It is a small, thin vine growing in the grass in the shadier parts of the lawn. Every 3-4 inches it has two thin stems about three inches long sprouting from almost exactly the same place on the vine...
view the full question and answer

Winterberry holly not fruiting
October 22, 2009 - Regarding Ilex verticillata, which I have planted in a partial sun, somewhere between all dry and all wet location, i don't see any red berries, and it's mid-october. We are in the 'burbs of just ...
view the full question and answer

Dfferences between Argemone arizonica and other Argemones
October 27, 2005 - I am trying to find information about the differences between the Argemone arizonica which grows only in the Grand Canyon and the other Argemones which grow in the rest of the U.S. Do you have any...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center