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
13 ratings

Thursday - May 17, 2007

From: Louisville, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a flower with grape kool aid fragrance
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

While I lived in Texas someone gave me a flower from a "tree" (i am not sure tree is the right word). It was a large white flower that closed up in the evenings and smelled sweet like grape kool aid. I am pretty sure that the insides were either yellow or purpleish. I think it might have had the name star in it but I am not sure. I know this isn't a lot of information. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is very familiar with the grape Kool-Aid smell of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) but the flowers don't match your description.

The three native Texas magnolias have large white flowers and are very fragrant. They are: Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia), Magnolia pyramidata (pyramid magnolia), and Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay).

There are three hibiscus plants native to Texas with large white flowers, but they lack the fragrance you describe. They are: Hibiscus laevis (halberdleaf rosemallow), Hibiscus lasiocarpos (rosemallow), and Hibiscus moscheutos (crimsoneyed rosemallow).

Another Texas native with largish white flowers, but no fragrance is Chilopsis linearis (desert willow).

Another fragrant large white flower, Gardenia taitensis (Tahitian gardenia), is native to Hawaii, but not native to Texas.

It could be that you were given the large white flowers from a plant that isn't native to Texas, but that thrives here. However, if it isn't one the native ones mentioned here, I'm afraid you have stumped Mr. Smarty Plants.


Sophora secundiflora

Magnolia grandiflora

Hibiscus laevis

Chilopsis linearis

Gardenia taitensis

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Moonnflower native to North America
June 30, 2008 - Is the plant called moon flower a native plant to North America?
view the full question and answer

Clarification for botanical (Latin) names for Herbertia
June 17, 2010 - I am looking for a clarification of scientific names. In the classic wildflower book 'Wildflowers of Texas' the author, Geyata Ajilvsgi, attributes the plant Herbertia with the name Alophia drummon...
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 thorny vine in Michigan
May 21, 2013 - We have a species growing around our rural SW Michigan property that I'm trying to identify: I either see stalks up to 3 ft tall, or much longer vines if they find anchor. The most notable characte...
view the full question and answer

Verifying safety of berries on a red mulberry tree in Austin
May 06, 2009 - I think I have a red mulberry tree on a newly purchased property. The property sits on Lake Austin and the tree is at least 40 feet tall with red fruits about an inch long that look like skinny black...
view the full question and answer

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