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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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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!

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Saturday - May 14, 2005

From: Chelsea, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Texas native wildflowers viable in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you tell me what wildflowers native to Texas would also thrive in Michigan?? I'd like to surprise a "transplant".

ANSWER:

Well, poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is native to both Michigan and Texas, but that's probably not the sort of plant you had in mind! You can do a search on the Native Plants Database using "Distribution" as your search criteria. If you input "Michigan", you will get a list of >2300 plants that are native to Michigan. For each of these plants the distribution for all states is listed so that you can pick out which ones are native to both Michigan and Texas. That's a lot of plants to sort through so I assume another criteria you have is that the plant is commercially available. I do have a few suggestions (not poison ivy) that would probably remind your friend of Texas and also be commercially available.

There are a couple of shrubs/small trees that are native to both Texas and Michigan that would say "Texas" to your friend. One is the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) which produces beautiful dark pink blooms in late February (In Texas). The other is Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) which produces red berries and colorful leaves in the fall.

For herbaceous perennials you might consider:
1) Black-eyed Susan ()Rudbeckia hirta),
2) Red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and
3) Winecup (Callirhoe involucrata).

For a listing of Nurseries and Seed Companies that specialize in native plants, visit the National Suppliers Directory. For instance, if you search for "Seed Companies" in Michigan, you will find that Wildtype Design in Mason, Michigan has seeds for several of the plants listed above.
 

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