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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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Friday - November 07, 2014

From: Angleton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Identity of blue sage-like plant blooming in September in Lubbock TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

This has bothered me for years. It looks like a miniature version of Salvia azure. About a foot talk with multiple stems. Flowering in September. Grows on the hillsides overlooking Buddy Holly Lake in Lubbock. Grows with blackfoot daisy, blue gramma and feathered dalea. Looks biennial to perennial. It's not a skullcap. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Since you say it isn't Salvia azurea (Pitcher sage) (USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in adjacent Lamb County although not in Lubbock County) or Scutellaria resinosa (Resin-dot skullcap) ( USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in Lubbock County), Mr. Smarty Plants is left with only a few choices that are native and in the Family Lamiaceae (mint family) with flowers that would resemble Salvia azurea.  (You will note that I interpreted "blue" rather broadly, including "purple" and "violet" in my search terms as well).  They are:

There are three native species of Monarda that occur in Lubbock County, although I don't think they really fit your description.  They are

Monarda pectinata (Pony beebalm)

Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm)

Monarda clinopodioides (Basil beebalm)

There is one other possibility in the mint family, Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit), an introduced non-native species, that is shown occurring in Lubbock County on the USDA Plants Database distribution map.  Here are more photos of henbit from Identify That Plant.

Here are a few possibilities from the Family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family) that has flowers that are similar in structure to the mint family flowers.

Nuttallanthus texanus (Texas toad-flax)  The USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in Lubbock County.  it normally blooms February through May.

Penstemon buckleyi (Buckley's penstemon) blooms in April-May.  The USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in Lubbock County.

Penstemon fendleri (Fendler's penstemon) blooms April through July.  The USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in Lubbock County.

If none of the above is the plant you saw in bloom in September and you have a photograph or photographs, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  You might also consider contacting someone in the South Plains Lubbock Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas to see if they can help you identify the plant.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Resin-dot skullcap
Scutellaria resinosa

Drummond's false pennyroyal
Hedeoma drummondii

Lanceleaf sage
Salvia reflexa

Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Basil beebalm
Monarda clinopodioides

Texas toad-flax
Nuttallanthus texanus

Texas toad-flax
Nuttallanthus texanus

Buckley's penstemon
Penstemon buckleyi

Fendler's penstemon
Penstemon fendleri

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