Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 - April 22, 2007

From: Kalamazoo, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Iris brevicaulis in Southwest Michigan
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We live in Kalamazoo, MI (Southwest Michigan Zone 6) and discovered last year that we have an iris brevicaulis (we think) growing (and very pretty) on our property. It has the "zig zag" stem. It seemed to come out of nowhere (we have lived here 5 years and have never seen it) and is on a sandy/loamy hillside that used to be an apple orchard. Based on our research it is not supposed to be this far North. Is this rare for our area and conditions? There is no water anywhere near the area. How do Iris propagate other than rhizomes? Are there seeds a bird might spread? We've wondered how it got here to begin with. There is just one plant. I can send you a picture if you would like to verify the species.

ANSWER:

Your iris is possibly Zig-zag iris, Iris brevicaulis. However, Zig-zag iris is not the only iris with zig-zag stems. If your plant is Zig-zag iris, then it is an unusual denizen of your area. Birds would not be a likely candidate for dispersing iris seeds, although other herbivores such as deer or cattle might be responsible. Seed can also be dispersed by farm equipment, truck tires and footwear. Exactly how your plant came to be where it is growing may remain a mystery. While Zig-zag iris prefers moist soil, it will also grow in more upland settings.

If you would like to submit digital images for identification, please email them to [email protected]. Write "Plant Identification Request" on the subject line.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Native North American bulbs
August 19, 2011 - I saw your list of 4 lilies native to the Northeastern United States, which was very helpful. What other bulbs are native to North America? Although I garden in Connecticut, I am interested in learn...
view the full question and answer

Need help identifying a plant with lupine-like leaves in La Grange Park, IL
May 20, 2010 - I encountered a plant on a level area just above a creek bed (moist soil, sun to partial sun) at one of the three largest grasslands in Illinois. The specific site looked like it may have been a burn ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Beaumont TX
August 13, 2010 - I live in Beaumont Texas and have some trees on the land I hunt that look like a yaupon but put on a small blue berry that the deer devour in December. I have looked and searched the Internet but hav...
view the full question and answer

Identification of low growing plants with flowers that resemble a bunch of grapes in Graford, TX
February 10, 2011 - I am in northwest TX and I would like to know the name of the early blooming, very low growing plant that has a single bloom on a bare stem--it is dark crimson and the blooms looks like a bunch of gra...
view the full question and answer

Mimosa pudica or \
July 02, 2007 - I don't have a picture of a flower but I'm looking for a flower that I was told was called earthquake flower. It blooms at night. Could you help me?
view the full question and answer

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