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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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Monday - July 11, 2005

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Smarty Plants on Smoke Tree
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Indianapolis Indiana and there is this wonderful tree on my street which has the most unusual flowers that I've ever seen. They look like pink and white fiber optics. Spencer gift stores used to sell these fiber optic lights that look like this tree's flowers. Pink delicate colored hair-like balls that seem to float all over the tree every spring. Does anyone have a clue what the name of this tree is, or where I might be able to find some close-up photo's of its flowers? I can't figure out any better way to describe these blossoms they are unlike any tree blossom I have ever seen. I was thinking that maybe they were the "Smoke Tree" or "Smoke Bush", but I looked at several photos of those (Google search "Smoke Tree") and they didn't really look right, but then again there were no close up shots of the blooms themselves. If you have any ideas please email me. Have a terrific day and God Bless.

ANSWER:

Your "fiber optic" tree sounds like Albizia julibrissin, Silktree or Mimosa Tree. Be sure to select "Search Images" from the menu at the top of that page to see more pictures. You can also see more pictures on the Duke University web page.
 

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