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
9 ratings

Sunday - May 16, 2010

From: Spokane, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Albinism in plants.
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

Greetings, I was wondering what you know of albinism in plants? I know I've found a few articles about it online. I discovered my only albino plant last summer. It was an albino dogbane plant growing amongst other relatively normal ones. It was noticeably smaller and a bit shriveled looking, yet had the morphology of dogbane. Thanks for your time.

ANSWER:

Yes, we know a little about it. Albinism in plants, as in animals, is a genetic condition that stops the production of pigment. In the case of plants, the pigment is chlorophyll an essential ingredient in the process of photosynthesis. The genetic condition can occur in seed in which case the non-photosynthetic seedlings quickly deplete their starch reserves and die. The genetic condition can also arise in the body of a mature plant from a mutation in a cell that gives rise to other cells. In this case the albino plant may survive (albeit weakly) as long as it can derive nourishment from the non-albino part of the plant. 

 

More General Botany Questions

Mountain laurel with fasciation
July 24, 2014 - My Texas Mountain Laurel bush has developed several "crested branches." What causes this, is it harmful & how do I get rid of them??? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

How is native range changed in the scientific record?
March 28, 2011 - I am accessioning Pachysandra procumbens for the Baker Arboretum. These plants were made from cuttings of a native stand here in Warren County (Western KY). How does the record get amended to...
view the full question and answer

Plants for soils with extreme pH values
May 24, 2009 - I am doing a project on acid and alkaline on the ph scale but all I can find is a range of 5.0 to 8.0. Do they have plants in the range of 8.0 to 14.0 or 1.0 to 5.0? If not, why is that? If so, what a...
view the full question and answer

Should Rock Harlequin stay green all winter?
May 28, 2014 - I have a rock harlequin that came up in a area that had been disturbed. It came up last summer/fall and the foliage survived our tough winter. I can not find anything about this plant staying green al...
view the full question and answer

Copper beech
May 12, 2005 - Hi, I work for a youth camp in southeastern Pennsylvania. The property for the camp was purchased from a farmer in 1958. The farmer was a collecter of unusual trees and one of the trees on our prop...
view the full question and answer

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