Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - June 04, 2005

From: Rchardson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Smarty Plants on Jewel of the Nile
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My husband and I just returned from a short trip to San Francisco. While on a bus tour that took us to the Twin Peaks area, we saw some beautiful purple flowers growing on the hillside. Our tour guide called them "Jewel of the Nile" or Comal, and said that when they first bloom their color is orange, then turns purple, and finally blue. The stem of the flower is thick and tall and the flower itself appeared to be at least six inches long. I think that the petals grow in a vertical cluster. What is the proper name for this flower or plant? Is it a wildflower, native to California, or a transplant? Do you think this flower could be grown in the Dallas, Texas area (if I were able to obtain a specimen)?

ANSWER:

I suspect that what you were seeing was "Lily of the Nile" (Agapanthus africanus) or (Agapanthus praecox). These are African species that have been introduced and cultivated as a garden plant. They are very common in gardens of the San Francisco area and could well have escaped into the countryside. As far as I know, however, the blooms begin blue (or white), not orange. They may darken as they mature, however. Their hardiness range is Zones 7 to 9. Since Dallas is in Zone 8, it should do just fine. However, it would be a good idea to confine the plants to a container to keep them from escaping into natural areas since they are not native.
 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
September 17, 2008 - I have a plant that I think is called a Brookmania or Bookmania. It has beautiful purple flowers with white centers and darker leaves. I cannot find any info on this flower.
view the full question and answer

Identification of willow-like tree
April 22, 2012 - Hi. My daughter is trying to identify a native tree that is like a "scrub" tree here in pastures in Austin, Texas (for a school project). It sort of looks like weeping willow, but most aren't very ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly Datura wrightii
August 25, 2010 - I have a plant in my back yard, it had big white trumpet flowers, and now it has huge green pods. Doesn't smell very nice. Could you tell me what it is?
view the full question and answer

Identification of Tacoma stans or Yellow Bells
September 05, 2006 - We have seen a plant along the freeway here in Round Rock...beautiful greens leaves and the most amazing yellow flowers. Someone told us it was an esperanza plant and drought tolerate; however, I can...
view the full question and answer

Name for paloverde look-alike near Colorado Springs
July 26, 2011 - I don't know where this plant comes from. However, I am wondering what the name of plant of the following description would be. It is a shrub, about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. It grows in zone 6 t...
view the full question and answer

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