En EspaÑol

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?


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

Sunday - August 11, 2013

From: Jackson, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Identification of tree bought from a magazine ad
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I recently submitted the following question to Ask An Expert. They were unable to identify the plant. I hope you will be able to. Can you help me by either identifying this plant or advising me as to who can? A few years ago, I ordered via magazine advertisement, what was supposed to be a purple mist tree. This is what I received instead. The plant grows approximately 3 – 4 feet tall, dies off in winter, than starts the process again in the Spring, beginning at the root. Thank you for your time and trouble. Sincerely, Ralph.


First, our focus and expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America.   Quoting the Wildflower Center Mission:

"The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."

Second, it isn't possible to attach photos to the questions to Mr. Smarty Plants so we don't know what your tree looks like.  So, in guessing what you did order from the name you gave, maybe I will also find what you received in your order.  Here are some possibilities for the tree you ordered:

  • Maybe it is Buddleia x 'Purple Haze Lo and Behold' that I found at several nursery sites.  This one is from Nature Hills Nursery and is a non-native hybrid cultivar.

None of these trees are North American natives and certainly the tree you received is very unlikely to be a native tree or shrub either since you ordered it from a magazine ad.  Since it is unlikely that you have a native plant, we are not the people to identify it for you since our specialty is North American natives.  We do have links to several plant identificatiion forums on our Plant Identification page that will accept photos of plants for identification.  I would suggest the UBC Botanical Garden Plants: Identification as the forum to start with.   To have the best chance of identifying your tree/shrub you will need several photos:  1) the entire plant; 2) closeup photos of leaves and how the leaves are arranged on the branches;  3) photos of flowers if it is bloom—both a photo of the branch with the flower on it and a closeup of the flower;  4) fruits, if there are any on the tree.  Be sure the photos are in good focus and are high-resolution images.  Also, read "Important Notes" at the bottom of our Plant Identification page.


More Non-Natives Questions

Problems with non-native Chinese pistache tree in San Jose CA
May 30, 2009 - We have a Chinese Pistache tree that is between 25 and 30 years-old. Over the past couple years, we have observed more and more branches dying. They turn black, and remain leafless in the spring, when...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow from Hazlet NJ
July 03, 2013 - Leaves turning yellow on weeping willow planted in May. What causes this and how can I fix it? Mother's Day gift after SANDY uprooted huge tree.
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for golf courses from Austin
October 06, 2013 - I may be working on two different golf courses and wanted to know if any native or hybrid native grasses would work for the fairways and rough areas? The rough areas are no problem as a number of ...
view the full question and answer

Removing a hackberry stump from a non-native fig tree
April 02, 2008 - I have a fig tree that is at least 50 years old. A hackberry tree is growing up through the fig. I have cut it back several times (it is probably 3 inches in diameter at ground level), but have been...
view the full question and answer

Watering newly-planted Afghan Pines
May 11, 2015 - I just planted some Afghan pines in Amarillo, tx (avg. rainfall about 2O in. Per year) What would be the appropriate amount of water and how often would I need to water during this time.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center