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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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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.

 
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Friday - July 17, 2009

From: New River, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: What is sage-like plant in New River AZ?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a sage like looking plant growing wild in my yard. I live in the Sonora Desert. Its leaves are purple and once a year in spring it will bloom small blooms that are lavender. It grows 2 to 3 and a half feet tall. It sort of spreads out rather than grows totally upwards-although it does grow upwards. I thought it was purple sage but after reading about purple sages they all have green leaves and bloom purple-hope you can help.

ANSWER:

The first plant that comes to mind from your description is Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), which has gray-green leaves, bright pink-lavender flowers that will bloom intermittently all year, 2 to 5 ft. tall. However, you said it was growing wild in your yard, and this USDA Plant Profile does not show it as being native to Arizona. This is not a member of the Salvia genus, not a true sage, but is often called "Texas Sage" or "Ranger Sage" in commercial trade. But not even the cultivars or selections of this plant that we could find information on have purple leaves and, again, they would not ordinarily be growing wild in Arizona.

Looking at the true sages, we found Salvia leucophylla (San Luis purple sage), but this plant is endemic to California, and doesn't look anything like your description. 

We would love to know what your plant is, but will need more information and a picture or pictures to help us identify it. Go to the Mr. Smarty Plants page on Plant Identification for instructions on how to submit pictures and descriptions to us for identifying.


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Salvia leucophylla

 

 

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