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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!

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Friday - May 28, 2010

From: Nederland , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: How to distinguish Malvaviscus arboreus from M. a. var. drummondii?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a Turk's Cap plant. How do I tell if it is Malvaviscus arboreus or Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii?

ANSWER:

The short answer is if you didn't go to Mexico or Central or South America to get your plant, it's almost certainly Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii, our native variety.  The type variety, M. a. var. arboreus is native from Mexico to Brazil and the West Indies.  If it's a possibility that your plant came from somewhere south of the US border then the simplest distinguishing characteristic is overal leaf shape.  Though leaf morphology is quite variable for both varieties, in general, the leaves of our native variety are about as broad (or broader) as they are long.  The leaves of Malvaviscus arboreus var. arboreus are generally narrower in width than in length.  There are other, more technical differences, but these are the simplest to use.

 

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