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

Wednesday - August 18, 2010

From: Chicago, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant ID from Chicago
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

This plant is VERY common along highways across the entire midwest, and often other parts of the country. It has a long stem with a cluster of white flowers usually only on the top of the stem. The leaves are frayed and very thin. I was introduced to the plant. If you chew it and leave it on your tongue, it makes your tongue numb, and I was told that the plant can used as an anaestetic. I would instantly recognize an up-close picture of this plant, but I very much want to know its name and information. Thank you!

ANSWER:

We love identifying native plants for folks! Do you have a picture of a plant found growing in the wild somewhere in North America and you would like to know its name? Send us an email following the instructions below. Please do not send pictures of house plants, office plants, garden plants, plants seen on your vacation to Costa Rica or other clearly non-native species. For identification of non-native plants you might consider visiting the UBC Botanical Gardens Forums website.
  1. Tell us where and when you found the plant and describe the site where it occurred.
  2. If possible, take several high-resolution images including details of leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and the overall plant.
  3. Save images in JPEG format. Do not reduce the resolution of your images. High-resolution images are much easier for us to work with.
  4. Send email with images attached to [email protected]. Please enter Plant ID Request on the subject line of your email.
 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of plants emerging from "wildflower mix" of seeds
January 02, 2007 - I planted a "wildflower mix" a couple months ago, and now I have a bunch of plants growing that I'm not sure what they are. Some of them are starting to make buds, and I've been looking on the in...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 24, 2010 - Purchased foliage plant - no one knows its name. Leaves (stems) are bright green and 10" tall. Has "babies" like a spider plant but leaves (stems) are wider and thicker. Has a "rib" to them in...
view the full question and answer

Clarification for botanical (Latin) names for Herbertia
June 17, 2010 - I am looking for a clarification of scientific names. In the classic wildflower book 'Wildflowers of Texas' the author, Geyata Ajilvsgi, attributes the plant Herbertia with the name Alophia drummon...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree or shrub in Massachusetts
May 16, 2013 - Good morning, We are in Zone 5 and have a tree/shrub I cannot identify in the backyard of our new home. Tall (6')and growing, green stems,and when the stems are broken the branches smell of lemon o...
view the full question and answer

Identification of small plant
May 31, 2011 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, We are doing a biology project where we have to identify certain plants found in our area. We encountered a infinity symbol-shaped light green plant, about 4 cm high, and light...
view the full question and answer

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