Rent Shop 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?


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

Monday - August 04, 2008

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identifcation of fragrant, white camellia-like flower
Answered by: Nan Hampton


My friend describes a beautiful, unusual smelling flower. It was a white camellia-like bloom, but was not a camellia. It was flowering in June or July in the Alabama and Mississippi region. It had an unusual fragrance: sweet, like diluted plumeria, yet it almost smelled burnt. Can you help me name the flower with this unusual fragrance?


It could well be a cultivated plant and not a native one, in which case, I'm afraid Mr. Smarty Plants isn't likely to know what it is. Here is the best possibility for native plants:

Gordonia lasianthus (loblolly bay)

Also, there are two native camellias:

Stewartia malacodendron (silky camellia)

Stewartia ovata (mountain camellia)

If none of these look like the plant your friend described, please send us photos. Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read the instructions on submitting photos for identification.

Gordonia lasianthus

Stewartia malacodendron

Stewartia ovata



More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
October 01, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Ever since we received this (much needed and wonderful) rain in Austin, my gardens and yard are being swamped with these tiny, green clover-like plants. I've never seen it ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of flower similar to bluebell in Washington
June 16, 2013 - Is there somewhere I can submit a picture to see what kind of flower it is? It looks like a bluebell but more star shaped. Found on the side of the road in Oak Harbor, WA
view the full question and answer

Iris brevicaulis in Southwest Michigan
April 22, 2007 - 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 see...
view the full question and answer

Grapevine at the Wildflower Center
November 05, 2013 - Hello :) I recently visited the Lady Bird Wildflower Center for Goblins in the Garden. I'm curious if you all know exactly what type of grape is growing in the back of the garden near the "Heali...
view the full question and answer

Tall skinny plant with tubelike flowers
May 14, 2008 - I already posted a question regarding a skinny plant with tiny tube like flowers and you gave me 6 possibilities unfortunately it is not one of them. I happened to see the plant again in my neighborh...
view the full question and answer

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