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
1 rating

Wednesday - June 05, 2013

From: Bethlehem, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of riparian plant in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm wondering if this is a native plant: the plant is 3-5ft. tall, it has a tough reedy stalk, grows in sunny riparian areas, has whorled leaves with toothed margin, and has elongated clusters of tiny reddish flowers. This plant seems to grow in colonies, and it seems quite common along our spring-fed creek. Does this type of plant seem familiar to you?

ANSWER:

This sounds like one of the docks.  There are several native and introduced species that occur in Pennsylvania.  The one that is the most similar to your description is one of the native ones:

Rumex orbiculatus (Greater water dock)  Here are more photos and information from the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and University of Michigan Herbarium.

There are three other native species that are candidates:

Rumex altissimus (Pale dock)  Here are photos and more information from Missouri Plants.

Rumex hastatulus (Heart-wing sorrel)  Here are more photos and information from Southeastern Flora and Discover Life.

Rumex verticillatus (Swamp dock)  Here are more photos and information from Plants of Wisconsin and the New England Wildflower Society.

Below are some introduced Rumex species that sound somewhat similar to your description:

Rumex acetosella (Sheeps sorrel)  Here is more information from Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide.

Rumex conglomeratus (Sharp dock)  Here are more photos from CalPhotos, University of California-Berkeley.

Rumex longifolius (Dooryard dock)  Here are more photos and information from New England Wildflower Society.

Rumex obtusifolius (Bitter dock)  Here are more photos and information from Virgina Tech Weed Identification Guide.

If none of the plants above is the plants you are seeing and you have (or can take) photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Greater water dock
Rumex orbiculatus

Heart-wing sorrel
Rumex hastatulus

Swamp dock
Rumex verticillatus

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of daisy-like yellow flower
March 12, 2012 - Georgetown, TX - I have two flowers blooming in my field that I can't identify. One is strong gold and the other strong orange. I cannot identify the leaf pad. There are no leaves on the stem which...
view the full question and answer

Picture for plant identification from Danville PA
May 30, 2013 - Is there a way that I could send a picture of a plant for identification?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification from Virginia
May 03, 2012 - We found lots of asparagus like stalks growing randomly in our field here in central Virginia. But, instead of an asparagus head it has a tight cluster of leaves that are small and roundish. Any idea...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Keller TX
March 18, 2009 - I'm trying to i.d. a wildflower found in Keller, Tx. It is about 8 in. tall, single upright stem with narrow, slender leaves up the stem, several red blooms at top of stem about 1 inch wide, 5 petals...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Cold Lake AB
August 03, 2012 - How can I send a picture for you to help me identify a plant that grows in my garden that no one can seem to identify? I have taken a picture of it but can't seem to be able to attach it to this que...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center