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

Tuesday - June 09, 2009

From: Bucyrus, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Fragrant night blooming plant
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My Grandmother use to have a night fragrant night blooming plant that she referred to as "baby Jesus being born" when it bloomed. Are you familiar with anything of this nature?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants didn't find a plant with the exact name your grandmother used but here is one possibility—Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Night blooming cereus, Dutchman's pipe cactus, Queen of the Night). A couple of people commenting on this plant referred to it as "Babe in the Manger."  I found other references to that name associated with Epiphyllum oxypetalum on several plant forums as well.  You can search on the linked page given above for "Babe in the Manger" or scroll down to the entries by NEVADASKIDS or lindas43.  The first entry says her mother called it that because the bloom looks like "Baby Jesus in the Manger with the star at his feet."  Epiphylllum oxypetalum is a member of the Family Cactaceae (Cactus Family) and is a native of Mexico and Central America.  It does bloom at night and is fragrant.   Here are more photos.  Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you need to have a pretty good imagination to see the baby Jesus in the center of the flower.

 

 

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Dill-like plant in veggie garden in California
September 28, 2011 - I have a plant that appeared in my veggie garden. Looks like dill in spring when green, but the leaves smell more like turpentine! Now, 4-5 foot tall, brown, it produces lots of small, oval - not cr...
view the full question and answer

Summer fragrance from Naples FL
June 07, 2011 - Ever since I was a little girl growing up in Naples, Florida, there has been something that blooms in the summer. I smell this every day into the evening and it isn't a flowery fragrance, it was a li...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 15, 2008 - Virginia Creeper or something else? I live in McKinney, Tx, and have a limestone escarpment in back that leads down to a "white rock " creek. A wrought iron fence separates the yard area from the ri...
view the full question and answer

Winterberry holly not fruiting
October 22, 2009 - Regarding Ilex verticillata, which I have planted in a partial sun, somewhere between all dry and all wet location, i don't see any red berries, and it's mid-october. We are in the 'burbs of just ...
view the full question and answer

What is Carolina Jessamine in San Antonio?
July 24, 2009 - Okay, so if Gelsemium sempervirens is the one photographed by Joe Marcus in the "Explore Plants" section, then what is the actual name of the plant that is in every other yard in San Antonio, widely...
view the full question and answer

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