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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 22, 2010

From: Aurora, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, (love the name), I have found a plant in my yard. Underground it looks like a green onion, above ground it has a broad leaf, a thin 8-12 inch stalk and the top 2" of the stalk is covered with 1/8 inch shiny green balls. I popped one of the balls and there were a few tiny white balls. Weed or desired garden plant? They were growing under an over growth of black berries.

ANSWER:

It sounds like a species in the Family Liliaceae (Lily Family).  There are many native species of Allium (onion).  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the species to those occurring in Oregon.  However, in general, the onion species have rather narrow leaves. 

Here are a few other lily possibilities:

Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum (bluedicks)

Triantha glutinosa (sticky tofieldia)

Or, it might be on of the species of Zigadenus.  Use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to select for those that occur in Oregon.

Of course, it may be a cultivated plant and not a native plant at all. You might try searching in Mark Turner's Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest and entering 'Liliaceae' as a search term under Quick Search. His database contains both native and introduced plants.  Our Native Plant Database contains only North American natives.

Very few of the photographs you find will show the fruits—most show the flowers and some foliage.  You will have to use the arrangement of the flowers and the leaves to get an idea of whether the plant looks like your plant.

If none of this helps you identify what it might be, please send us photos and we will give it a try.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions for submitting photos.

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Origin of sticky, smelly substance on dog in Southern California
August 27, 2011 - I just took my dog out (mid August) in Aguanga, CA (high desert) and, after coming back in, noted that his feet and legs were covered in a very sticky substance that STINKS - there is some kind of pla...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Pearland TX
August 10, 2013 - I am looking for a native plant; was told it was called Hummingbird Weed. Came from Coryell County. I let mine freeze and cannot find more. It has long spikes with small red trumpet-shaped blooms on ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant that resembles rosemary in Georgia
August 13, 2012 - Hi, I am an herbalist, but have been unable to identify this plant and it's driving me nuts since I cannot find any information on it. I live in NE Ga and have a plant that grows here that looks li...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 09, 2012 - I have a plant which has fern like leaves on the top and round broad leaves near the ground. What is it?
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with feathery leaves and deep pink flowers
July 28, 2014 - I have growing up my porch what appears to be a vine with feathery leaves and small deep pink flowers. There is no water sources near by. Can you tell me what it is?
view the full question and answer

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