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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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Monday - August 04, 2008

From: Thornton, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Ferns
Title: Identity of fern-like plant in woodland garden
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

what is the fern-like, hairy fleshy-stemmed, 12"-18" ht plant in my woodland garden

ANSWER:

You can find native ferns that grow in Pennsylvania by doing a Combination Search in our Native Plant Database. First, choose 'Pennsylvania' from the Select State or Province option, then select 'Fern' from Habit (general appearance).

Additionally, here are four native possibilities that aren't ferns but that sound a bit like the plant you describe:

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Lycopodium digitatum (fan clubmoss) with more photos

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (feathery false lily of the valley)

Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus (twistedstalk)

Of course, it is always possible that it isn't a native plant and, thus, wouldn't be in our Native Plant Database.  If it isn't one of these listed above or one of the native ferns, please send us photos and we will do our best to identify it. Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read instructions (under "Plant Identification") for submitting photos.

 

From the Image Gallery


Field horsetail
Equisetum arvense

Fan clubmoss
Lycopodium digitatum

Feathery false lily of the valley
Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Twistedstalk
Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus

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