Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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 - October 05, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Plant Identification
Title: Where do snake herb and skeleton-leaf goldeneye get their names?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Where does snake herb, and skeleton leaf goldeneye get their names from? Thank you.

ANSWER:

For Viguiera stenoloba (Resinbush or Skeleton-leaf goldeneye) the commom name would reflect the fact that it has very narrow leaves (sort of skeleton-like) compared to other members of the Genus Viguiera (goldeneyes) such as Viguiera cordifolia (Heartleaf goldeneye) and Viguiera dentata (Sunflower goldeneye) that have broader leaves. Stenoloba, the species designation, means narrow-lobed.

A meaning for the common name, snake herb, Dyschoriste crenulata (Wavyleaf snakeherb), Dyschoriste oblongifolia (Oblongleaf snakeherb)Dyschoriste linearis (Snake herb) and Dyschoriste schiedeana var. decumbens (Spreading snakeherb) was not so easy to find.  However, a brief mention of the reason for the name of snake herb occurs in the book Frontier Naturalist: Jean Louis Berlandier and the Exploration of Northern Mexico and Texas on page 103.  It says that the Commanches and the Lipan Apaches chewed the root of a plant called snake herb and made a poultice of the herb-and-saliva that they put on the wound from snake bites.  We don't know if this was a species in the Genus Dyschoristes, however.  There are also plants with these similar common names—common names including "snake":  Sanicula canadensis (Canadian blacksnakeroot), Ageratina aromatica var. aromatica (Lesser snakeroot), and  Eryngium aquaticum (Rattlesnake-master) to name just a few. So, even though we can't be completely sure that the plant named in the book above is the same snake herb that is in the Genus Dyschoristes, this is one possible explanation.

 

From the Image Gallery


Skeleton-leaf goldeneye
Viguiera stenoloba

Skeleton-leaf goldeneye
Viguiera stenoloba

Heartleaf goldeneye
Viguiera cordifolia

Heartleaf goldeneye
Viguiera cordifolia

Plateau goldeneye
Viguiera dentata

Plateau goldeneye
Viguiera dentata

Wavyleaf snakeherb
Dyschoriste crenulata

Oblongleaf snakeherb
Dyschoriste oblongifolia

Snake herb
Dyschoriste linearis

Spreading snakeherb
Dyschoriste schiedeana var. decumbens

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of blue wildflower on roadsides in Massachusetts
July 28, 2012 - What is the blue wildflower planted on roadsides and highways in Massachusetts?
view the full question and answer

Identification of red lily-like blossom in Austin, TX
September 21, 2012 - Rain at last in Austin! The rain lilies are up, but wait, what on earth is this? Lily like, 6 petals, but a cluster of 6 stalks w/blood red blooms slightly larger than our rain lilies - Off under a ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
July 27, 2009 - My wife and I have our first summer garden at our new home in the Panhandle of Texas. Included within our crop are several alien large, broad stalk, broad leaved plants with an extremely pungent, offe...
view the full question and answer

Non-native eleagnus from Jesup GA
January 17, 2014 - An elderly farmer has told me about a plant called Alley Agnes, but I can't find any plant by this name anywhere. He doesn't know another name for it, says it's what everyone has always called it i...
view the full question and answer

Botanical name for a kidney-shaped leaf
June 25, 2009 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I love the site.. but I was searching for id on this odd plant I have.. I have lived here a few years now, and have seen them before, never seemingly to have a flower..but ...
view the full question and answer

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