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

Sunday - July 21, 2013

From: Fresno, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a mint-like plant in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I found a plant growing near my apricot (in Fresno, California). It has a square stem which becomes more rounded toward the base. The leaves are smooth, opposite, and they have three to five leaflets (so far). The larger leaves are about two inches in diameter. It does not look like cannabis or cinquefoil (not hairy at all), but I suppose it could be. There is minimal toothiness on only some of the leaflets. It's very confusing because it smells exactly like a nice mint (not spearmint), but I cannot find any members of the mint family with leaves like this.

ANSWER:

This does sound like a member of the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family).  I can't begin to come up with an identity from your description alone and it is probably going to be difficult to identify for anyone seeing it or a photo of it without flowers blooming.  You can take a look through our Native Plant Database and a search in the Mint Family.  On the Native Plant Database page in the green "Search native plant database:" box, scroll through the list beside Family: and select "Lamiaceae (Mint Family).  Clicking on "go" will give you a list of 178 native North American members of the mint family in our database.   You can then use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose "California" from the Select State or Province slot to reduce the size of the list to 54 species.  Most of the species on the list have photos on the species page.   You can look through these to see if any look like your plant.

If your plant is not a North American native, it will not be in our Native Plant Database.  Whether it is native or not, you can visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  You should wait for flowers to appear before you photograph it to submit for identification.  You should submit a photo of the whole plant, closeup photos of leaves and of flowers and a photo of how the leaves are arranged on the plant. 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Need identification of a bush with red bumpy berries in PA.
October 02, 2009 - Pennsylvania - We are trying to identify a bush that has small red bumpy berries. The berries are the size of a crab apple or a cherry. Can you tell us what it is?
view the full question and answer

Mystery flower in Mesquite NY
April 17, 2010 - My sister recently told me a story, that one day in the Mesquite, NV area she liked a white wildflower on the side of the road, so she went to smell it, and a car stopped and told her not to touch it,...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with purple leaves and yellow flowers
April 21, 2008 - I'd like to know the name of a plant that has purplish leaves and sends roots out underground to make new plants. It can be invasive. It has yellow flowers. Leaves are oval in shape. Almost looks lik...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 06, 2009 - Could you please identify a plant with a scalloped elephant ear type leaf, wooden base with oval areas where old large wooden roots from above the ground have fallen off.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of purple flower in Washington state
July 19, 2013 - I need help. I am a 10 year old girl who just happens to have a brother. He has a deep purple flower with small, oval shaped petals. We would like to know what it is. We planted it in a garden thing a...
view the full question and answer

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