Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Saturday - July 24, 2010

From: Berkley, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I was wondering if you could help me identify a plant in the carrot family that has invaded a portion of my property that I fear may be toxic. It looks most like the water hemlock plant (leaf-wise, not quite as "ferny" as most of the other plants I've seen in that family, including hemlock plant). Its about 4-5 feet high. Two things that appear to be different though is that there are single bluish black huckleberry-like berries on the ends of each of the starbursts (after flowering) and also the roots have long runners that spawn other plants. Most of the pictures on the web I've seen show brown seeds, not berries. Matter of fact I cant find one picture of a berry anywhere that is a member of the carrot family. I also don't see any hollow chambers in the root, and the 1st several inches of stem above the ground are brown and "hairy" . Almost thorny. It seems to have characteristics of both the hemlock and water hemlock but not all of each. It does have some pinkish purple striations on the stems of most of the plants (but not all). I did pull up quite a bit but noticed a lot more in another part of the property so want to make sure it's not one of the toxic members of that family. I'm hoping the berries and the running roots may help identify which one it is. Thanks.

ANSWER:

The thing that will help the most in the identification of the plant is to send us photos showing all the various traits you have mentioned—the entire plant, closeup photos of leaves, of berries, and of the stem. Please send photos that are in good focus and of high resolution.  Please read the instructions for submitting the photos on Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page.
 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID from San Marcos TX
June 07, 2014 - My dogs love to eat the leaves of a certain little orange wildflower. It might be Wedelia or Texas creeping oxeye. Have you ever heard of this?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly Datura
September 07, 2007 - I have a wide green-leafed plant that has white flowers. This plant also has some thorny fruits in the shape of mines that float on the ocean. At the moment it is 2 feet high. I'm beginning to wo...
view the full question and answer

Mystery plant in Vicksburg, MS
May 20, 2008 - I have a strange plant that has come up by a ditch next to my house. I've lived here 23 years and have never seen anything like it. I can only guess that it came up from a packet of wildflower seed...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for Montana
June 30, 2011 - I am in forestry and work by Flathead Lake MT. I came across a wildflower and cannot I.D. it. Two come close..the Low Larkspur and Mountain Bog Gentian. It is blue/purple, 5 rounded petals, leaves are...
view the full question and answer

Mystery plant in VA
May 06, 2011 - We bought a new house with an established garden bed last fall. We have a tall single stemmed plant with long slightly twisted leaves that looks like a tall tulip plant. However, it is just starting...
view the full question and answer

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