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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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Saturday - September 29, 2007

From: Florence, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Frostweed under oaks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Our 5 acre property is located about 12 miles West of Salado on FM 2843. Under our beautiful Live Oak trees reside some plants that are just coming into bloom (9/29/07). They are about 3-4 ft high with very large leaves. The blooms are clusters of small white flowers, ball-shaped. Just wondered what these plants are called.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks this sounds like Verbesina virginica (frostweed or white crownbeard). Certainly, they are blooming all around the Austin area. The name frostweed (also, sometimes called ice plant) comes from the fact that at the first frost the sap freezes and bursts out of the stem forming a beautiful icy Christmas-candy like structure around the stem. Keep your eyes on these plants this winter and be sure you check them out at the first freezing temperatures.

If this isn't what you are seeing, you can send us a photo and Mr. SP will do his best to identify your plant. Please see instructions for submitting photos on the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page in the lower right corner under "Plant Identification".


Verbesina virginica

Verbesina virginica

Verbesina virginica

Verbesina virginica

 

 

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