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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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Saturday - August 30, 2014

From: Albuquerque, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants
Title: Seed pod of Proboscidea louisianica (Deveil's claw) in New Mexico
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I found the most amazing seed pods of the devil's claw right here in Albuquerque. I thought it was a wood skeleton of a pterodactyl (flying dinosaur, I believe), but heard it's a devil's claw. Okay, why is it here in central NM? I heard it's more like Gila area. Then on top of it all, I keep finding little goat's head type stickers on my carpet. Ouch!

ANSWER:

There are four species of Proboscidea that, according to the USDA Plants Database, grow in New Mexico (click on Subordinate Taxa in the menu to see the different species):

Proboscidea parviflora (Doubleclaw) occurs in Bernalillo County.  Here are more photos and information from Arizona Wild Flowers.

Proboscidea louisianica (Louisiana devil's-claw) occurs in eastern counties of New Mexico.  The USDA Plants Database shows the nearest county to Bernalillo County where this species occurs is Guadalupe County.  Here are more photos and information from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers.

The USDA Plants Database distribution map for Proboscidea althaeifolia (Desert unicorn-plant)  shows Socorro County to be the nearest county to Bernalillo County where it occurs.  Here are photos and more information from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers.

The USDA Plants Database distribution map for Proboscidea sabulosa (Sanddune unicorn) also shows Socorro County to be the nearest county to Bernalillo County where it occurs.  Here are photos and more information from New Mexico Rare Plants.

Curiously, Proboscidea spicata (New Mexico unicorn-plant) occurs only in Texas and not in New Mexico.  You can see a line drawing and read a description of it in Rare Plants of Texas:  A Field Guide by Jackie Poole et al. 2007. Texas A&M Press. p. 409.

In order to see the county distribution for each species, click on the general distribution map on the USDA Plants Database page for each species and use the sliding bar on the map to magnify the map.  Clicking on the map and moving the cursor will change the location.

Now, I can't say for sure which one you found in Albuquerque, but I'd put my money on P. parviflora.

As for the goat's head sticker on your carpet, check the shoes you wear outdoors as well as your dog(s) and cat(s).  One of those is the culprit bringing them inside!  Here is information from UC Davis IPC Online about managing one likely suspect, Tribulus terrestris (Puncturevine), an invasive from southern Europe.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sweet unicorn plant
Proboscidea louisianica ssp. fragrans

Louisiana devil's-claw
Proboscidea louisianica

Louisiana devil's-claw
Proboscidea louisianica

Louisiana devil's-claw
Proboscidea louisianica

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Bibliography

Rare Plants of Texas: A Field Guide (2007) Poole, J. M.; Carr, W. R.; Price, D. M.; Singhurst, J.R.

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