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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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Friday - May 06, 2011

From: Springfield, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Mystery plant in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

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 to bloom with a cluster of brownish pink bell shaped flowers hanging at the tip of this 3 foot stem. Can you tell us what it may be?

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, we have no way of positively identifying a plant without a photograph (and sometimes that is kind of "iffy") but your description  made me wonder if it might not be a fritillaria.

Although all the members of that group native to the US are native to the western states, it is a huge family and the bulbs from all over the world are planted widely.  Check out this Wikipedia entry to see if you find your plant. It might be a Crown Imperial.

Here are some photos of the fritillaria known as Checker lily or Mission bells.


Fritillaria affinis var. affinis


Fritillaria affinis var. affinis

 

 

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