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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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Tuesday - August 04, 2015

From: Minneapolis, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Pollinators
Title: Bee-friendly bush with small yellow flowers in Minnesota
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I was up north in Minnesota and saw a bee friendly bush with small yellow flowers clustered so they looked like small (4"-6") flocked Christmas trees. Any ideas? Thanks!

ANSWER:

On our Special Collections page we have three files for plants that are attractive to bees—Special Value to Native Bees, Special Value to Bumblebees, and Special Value to Honey Bees.

These files cover plants from all over North America so you will need to limit the plants to those that are native to Minnesota.  You can do this by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choosing "Minnesota" from Select State or Province and you can further limit your choices by Bloom Characteristics (Bloom Time and Bloom Color).

Here are a few plants I found on those lists that somewhat match your description:

Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver's root)—although the flowers are white, the form matches your description and they do bloom in July.

Solidago juncea (Early goldenrod)

Solidago flexicaulis (Zigzag goldenrod)

Solidago missouriensis (Missouri goldenrod)

Glycyrrhiza lepidota (American licorice)

Lysimachia terrestris (Earth loosestrife)

Lysimachia thyrsiflora (Tufted loosestrife)

Oligoneuron rigidum var. rigidum (Stiff goldenrod)

Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac)

You should try the searches yourself since I might have missed the very plant you saw.

Of course, there is always the possibility that the plant you saw was an escaped (or planted) cultivar of an introduced species that would not appear in our Native Plant Database.

 

From the Image Gallery


Culver's root
Veronicastrum virginicum

Early goldenrod
Solidago juncea

Zigzag goldenrod
Solidago flexicaulis

Missouri goldenrod
Solidago missouriensis

American licorice
Glycyrrhiza lepidota

Earth loosestrife
Lysimachia terrestris

Tufted loosestrife
Lysimachia thyrsiflora

Stiff goldenrod
Oligoneuron rigidum var. rigidum

Staghorn sumac
Rhus typhina

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