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
5 ratings

Thursday - December 10, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Why do Turk's cap plants have such a variable growth habit?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

In visiting the Family Garden at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center yesterday (10-21-15,) I admired a large bunch of Turks Cap that had more blooms than I had ever seen on Turks Cap, and I've loved that plant for 60 years. I also noticed that they were taller than any I have seen. There were almost no leaves as large as they normally grow, and the stalks looked as though they had been stripped of many leaves. Was that deliberate and does it increase blooms? Is this a different kind? Do you feed them? They're between the Robb Family Pavillion and the place with the exercise equipment. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap) is able to thrive in a wide variety of habitats.  When growing in a shady location it tends to be tall and have fewer blooms.  In a very sunny spot it is smaller in height, has smaller leaves and abundant blooms.  In part shade anything can happen!

As the season progresses during a dry year Turk's cap reduces its need for water by dropping some of its leaves.  And virtually all leaves are ultimately lost lin wlnter.  These factors are probably more influential in determining Turk's cap growth habit than its response to fertilizer.

Only the drummondii variety of Turk's cap is native to Central Texas, so what variations you see are primarily due to environmental effects.

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID from Chicago
August 18, 2010 - This plant is VERY common along highways across the entire midwest, and often other parts of the country. It has a long stem with a cluster of white flowers usually only on the top of the stem. The le...
view the full question and answer

Help with plant ID
September 01, 2004 - I found this plant alongside the road in a field in North Dallas. The dirt was fairly dry, and image is attached.
view the full question and answer

Identification of thorny plant in Michigan
June 16, 2008 - i live in southern michigan and have a thorny plant with oval leaves growing in my flower beds. this used to be a grassy area how did it get there. i live on the edge of town. what plants in my area h...
view the full question and answer

Unusual vine in San Diego County, California
May 12, 2012 - Dear Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, I came across an unusual vine winding through a young Zumaque growing off the edge of a mesa in San Diego (coastal sage scrub). The small (fingernail-sized)leaves rough...
view the full question and answer

Mystery forest plant in WV
May 21, 2012 - In the mountains of southern WV I have several acres of shady, moist land. It has never been developed and is COVERED with a low growing fern?ground cover?whatever. It creeps along on very shallow r...
view the full question and answer

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