Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Sunday - April 26, 2009

From: Edwardsburg, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My brother in law just bought a parcel of land that is bespeckled with shrubs we cannot identify. The land is located in south west Michigan. It is zoned agricultural. Due to the fact that it is early spring I cannot describe any leaves. However, it has smooth reddish colored thorny stems. At first I thought it to be roses. It also produces some sort of seed pod? that is round, empty, yellow in color and approximately the size of cherry tomatoes. These plants may have been planted there as they appear to be growing in rows and columns. However the sizes vary enough that I am puzzled as to whether or not they are native.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants agrees that if your plants do appear in rows/columns, they are likely to be native or non-native agricultural plants such as raspberries or blackberries, or perhaps roses.  Looking through the native shrubs in Michigan Mr. Smarty Plants found 11 native roses and 26 native species of Rubus (blackberries, raspberries, etc.), but your description doesn't really sound like these and there weren't any other obvious likely candidates with thorns.  We are very happy to try to identify your plants, but I think we are going to need photographs to do so.  Please wait until they have leaves to photograph them.  Then, take photos of the entire plant, closeup of the leaves and, if possible, take photos of the flowers as well. Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read the instructions on submitting photos for identification.
 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
May 30, 2012 - I had a strange plant pop up in my yard this year, and I figured maybe you guys could help me out. This plant is spreading along the ground, and the stem is woody right where it is coming out of th...
view the full question and answer

Identification of possible toxic plant in Austin, TX
June 20, 2014 - When we hike with our dogs along Turkey Creek in Austin, they seem to make a bee line to a small green leafy plant when they find it along the trail and eat a few leaves of it. We assume it's not dan...
view the full question and answer

Taxonomic question about Viola missouriensis and Viola affinis.
March 28, 2011 - I have tentatively identified a violet as either Viola affinis or V. missouriensis. However, the pages for those species are dated 2007 and 2009, respectively, in the NPIN, while it read...
view the full question and answer

Possible identification of common mullein in New York
July 06, 2007 - OK I have a monster size plant, growing beside my patio, looked weedlike similar to a burdock when young, but different and interesting. So we let it grow its now about 7'2" tall grows about 2-3" ...
view the full question and answer

Is there an App for that?
June 05, 2012 - Do you have an app like leafsnap that my students can use to identify the plants around our school? I would like them to take a picture of the leaf of each plant with their iPads and have your data b...
view the full question and answer

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