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?

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
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 06, 2008

From: Carnation, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification, possibly Actaea rubra, red baneberry
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I came across a plant that has leaves similar to the astillbe shrub, stands about 3 feet high, and instead of a flower spire, has a chunk of bright red berries the size of medium-sized pearls atop its "pole". The stem is hollow,green, and it was last week of July that I spotted it, standing out in the brush like a red flag - a big pompom solid-packed with berries all by its lonesome under the tall firs. We are in Washington State and I've been researching for two days now on native plants with red berries and can't raise it. I've found two of these plants growing singly straight up with that pompom of bright red berries. Each berry contains about 10 large, wedge-shaped seeds. I don't know the color the flower may have been or what month it bloomed. I did a leaf rubbing of the leaves, which look very similar to astillbe. What could it be?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you saw Actaea rubra (red baneberry). Here are photos from Colorado, Connecticut, Wisconsin, California and Central Washington. Sometimes they have white berries instead of red ones. If this isn't it, please let us know and we will try again.

 


Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Flowering vine with yellow flowers in Nevada
August 10, 2014 - A flowering vine started growing in our Henderson back yard about 2 months ago. It has variegated green leaves & yellow flowers. We decided not to pull it out & now it's spreading. I've looked on v...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
July 06, 2008 - I am trying to identify a small tree or large plant here in Indiana. I have seen it from 6 ft to as tall as 15 to 20. It is a green leaf with pink cone shaped growth at the ends of a branch. The co...
view the full question and answer

Identification of wild plum found in Conroe, TX
March 23, 2007 - I have found a wild plum that has dirty pink flowers and reddish smooth bark in a field in the town of Conroe, Tx. Identification thru the Ag Man here was sketchy and inaccurate. Short stubby limbs w...
view the full question and answer

Propagating a Magnolia tree from a twig cutting in New Hampshire.
November 02, 2011 - I have a twig cutting from a rare magnolia tree I found on a farm in central New Hampshire. The tree seems to be at least one hundred years old. It was in full bloom in late August and I was told by t...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with white flowers in Arkansas
April 09, 2014 - I have about 15 flowering shrubs that just started blooming in a cut-over. They are about 6/7 feet tall and have an entire crown of white blooms that resemble a cross between a Dandelion and a Marigol...
view the full question and answer

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