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
2 ratings

Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Fleetwood, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Botanical name for a kidney-shaped leaf
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I love the site.. but I was searching for id on this odd plant I have.. I have lived here a few years now, and have seen them before, never seemingly to have a flower..but as I let it grow more "wild" the leaves have gotten quite big. it's a kidney- bean shaped leaf.. but the ends of each lobe may very well come around far enough to touch each other under the spot where the leaf begins.. and I don't know what the proper name for that shape is. I have found several charts with leaf types, but none that match mine. the closest I have found was a word that gave me heart shaped leaves, and this "heart" would have had to have it's point shaved off.. but I am just getting too much kidney bean food in my search results no matter how hard I try. Can you please tell me a more "proper" name for this shape of leaf so my searches can find me better results??? thank you for your time.

ANSWER:

The shape I think you are looking for is reniform (kidney-shaped) but I'm not sure whether or not the stem for your leaf is attached at same side as the one in the illustration.  The other possibility (if the stem is attached to the other side of the kidney bean) is obcordate.  The leaflets of Oxalis sp. are obcordate.  Here are some photos of Utricularia reniformis (a Brazilian carnivorous plant) with reniform leaves.  There is a tiny plant native to Pennsylvania, Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot), that has reniform leaves, too.  Here are more photos of D. carolinensis. There is also a larger plant with reniform leaves native to Pennsylvania, Asarum canadense (Canadian wildginger), that is a candidate for your plant.  It does have flowers but they are sometimes difficult to see since that grow down near the ground underneath the leaves.  Here are photos and a distribution map of A. canadense from the USDA Plants Database.

If wild ginger doesn't happen to be your plant, Mr. Smarty Plants loves to identify plants.  So, if you have, or can take, photos of your plants, you can send them to us and we will do our very best to identify them.  Please visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions on submitting photos.


Dichondra carolinensis

Asarum canadense

Asarum canadense

Asarum canadense

Asarum canadense

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identity of shrub with brownish flowers called cinnamon bush
April 25, 2012 - When I lived in Vernon, CT, my neighbor had a small shrub/tree approximately 5 ft tall with small ovate slightly serrated leaves. In spring it produced reddish brown flowers that were of a hardened p...
view the full question and answer

Identification of bushes with red berries in Tennessee
January 31, 2012 - I was recently traveling thru Clarksville, TN and saw these bushes (at the shopping mall) that had clusters of small red berries on them. They were not a Holly that I know of. The leaves were not th...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant known as mosquito plant (Agastache cana)
October 11, 2007 - I received some seeds from an annual plant that came from Bowie, Tx. It has square stems, like mint plants, medium size leaves turns purple when in the sun and had a strong odor when brushed against. ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 25, 2008 - I live north of Chicago. I have been Gardening just about everything forever. I finally got a surprise gift from a migrating bird, squirrel or possibly my kitchen composting. Apparently from a seed gr...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
December 15, 2008 - I am looking for the name of the plant that looks like the spider plant but can survive the cold weather of the northeast. It looks just like the indoor spider plant but it does not produce offshoots....
view the full question and answer

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