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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.

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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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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!

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Tuesday - July 01, 2014

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Plant Lists
Title: How to solve a search problem on the Native Plant Database!
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

When I use the LBJ Wildflower Center's Plant Identification Guide, it ALWAYS comes up with no results. It also ALWAYS comes up with Family: Acanthaceae. Could this be why NO question EVERY produces ANY results? How do I make the data base search ALL plants? I've tried TEXAS> Herb> Annual> Pt Shade > March, Apr, May, June > Red > 0-1, 1-3 > Alternate > Deciduous. I've tried changed it to shrub, left leaf retention blank (as one would with an annual), tried perennial.. You name it, I've tried the combination. Surely there's at least ONE pant in Texas that has red flowers in the spring. I'm thinking that perhaps this is because it ALWAYS comes up with Family: Acanthaceae. Could this be why NO question EVERY produces ANY results? How do I make the data base search ALL plants?

ANSWER:

I think the problem is that you are clicking on the wrong "button" to submit your search.  Let's go through your search step-by-step.

Go to the Native Plant Database and use the COMBINATION SEARCH area.  Choose "Texas" from the Select State or Province option, "Herb" from Habit (general appearance), "Annual" from Generation (lifespan), "Part shade..." from Light Requirement, "Mar, Apr, May, Jun" from Bloom time, "Red" from Bloom Color, "Alternate" from Leaf Arrangement, "Deciduous" from Leaf retention and "0-1" and "1-3" from Size Characteristics and then CLICK ON THE ORANGE BOX at the bottom of all these criteria that says "Submit combination Search".  You should get just one plant:

Callirhoe leiocarpa (Tall poppymallow)

If you click on either of the orange boxes that say "go" beside the Name: or Family: slot, you won't get the search you just specified; instead you get all the plants in the Family Acanthaceae.

If you modify your search a little, you will get more plants.  For instance, don't specify anything for Leaf Arrangement.  Many of our entries do not have information for Leaf Arrangement so specifying "Alternate" or "Deciduous" is going to leave out lots of plants that don't have this specification included in their description.  They may actually have alternate or deciduous leaves but unless this is stated on the species page the plant won't be included in the results.

By leaving off these two characteristics you will get six more wildflowers that meet your other characteristics.

If you are looking for a specific plant, you can search for it by entering its name (either the common name or its scientific name) in the Name: slot and then clicking on the orange box that has "go" in it beside the slot.

If you want to see all the plants in our Native Plant Database that are in the Family Liliaceae (Lily Family), for instance, then scroll down the list beside the Family: slot and choose Liliaceae (Lily Family) and click the orange box that has "go" in it beside the slot.

If this doesn't help, please let me know and I'll try another explanation of how to accomplish the search you want to make.

 

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