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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 - January 11, 2010

From: Fayetteville, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native Alocasia in Fayetteville, AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to find out information on a plant that I received as a gift called an Alocaiso Plant, It a green, large, shiny green leaf plant with cream colored veins. Very beautiful and I would think only for indoors (I live in Arkansas) except maybe in summer. Any information you could give would be helpful. I haven't been able to find out anything about this plant. Thank you in advance for your response.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. The closest we could come to your plant name is Alocasia. There are a great many species of this plant, generally referred to as "elephant ears." They are all native to tropical Asia, and therefore are out of our area of expertise. 

One good source for information on non-native plants is the UBC Botanical Forum, on which we found this entry about  Alocasia lauterbachiana. A website from Central Florida Farms Alocasia Plants lists and has pictures of a number of these plants. These are all members of the Araceae family, common name Aroids, from the International Aroid Society.

These plants are tropical, and hardy to Zone 8 only with some protection. Since your area of Northwest Arkansas is Zone 6, you will probably have to treat it as a houseplant year round.

 

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