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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - July 19, 2013

From: Centralia, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of purple flower in Washington state
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 at Home Depot. It is supposedly a herb or wildflower. Please help!

ANSWER:

First, let me tell you that our focus and expertise here at the Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America.  I'm not sure whether your brother got the plant at Home Depot or he found it growing somewhere in the wild.   If he got it at Home Depot, then it isn't too likely that it is a plant native to North America.  Most of the plants that you buy in nurseries or stores like Home Depot are plants introduced to North America from some other place like Europe, Asia, Africa or Central or South America.   We aren't going to be much help if the plant isn't native to North America.  However, if you can take photos of it, then you can visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  Be sure you get a photo of the entire plant, a closeup of the flower, and a closeup of the leaves and how they are arranged on the plant.

If your brother did find the flower growing outdoors, it is possible that it is a North American native plant.  If it is a native plant, then it is very likely to be in our Native Plant Database.  You can help him look for it by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH and choosing "Washington" from the Select State or Province slot and then choosing "Herb" from Habit (general appearance).  Next, select "Blue", "Purple" and "Violet" from Bloom Color.  Then, click on "Submit combination search".  This will give you a list of more than 230 records to look through.  Most of the entries on the list have photos with them.

Another way you can look for it is to search in the Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest database.  This database has native plants as well as a few non-natives that you might find growing in the wild.  You can search by flower color.  On this database your color choice would be "blue".

Best of luck finding the identity of your brother's flower.

 

 

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