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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - June 14, 2008

From: Salem, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a plant or weed that is a five leaf leave and it is greenish-red and shinny. I have been searching the internet and can't seem to find what it is. It is spread throughout my back yard and with small children I need to know what it is and what it can do if they come in contact with it. At first I thought it was poison sumac, however that only has 3 leaves. I think it's poisonous, because of the shinny leaves. Can you help me? Send me a picture and description of possible five leaf plants that my be poisonous. Thank you.

ANSWER:

The first plant that we thought of with five leaves is Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), a vine whose leaves can be tinged with red even in the spring. The leaves themselves are not poisonous, but the berries it produces are. If this isn't the plant you have in your backyard, the simplest way for Mr. Smarty Plants to help you determine the identity of your plant is to send us digital photographs of it. Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to find the instructions for submitting photographs under "Plant Identification". We will do our very best to identify your plant when we receive the photos.

 


Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

 

 

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