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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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Saturday - June 18, 2011

From: Mason, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello- I would like to know what is this plant? It grows in part to full sun over a large area; gray fuzzy, quilted, pointed leaves. It is now about 6-10" tall plants but there are untrimmed 24-30" dried stalks. The gray-green stalks are starting to show tiny clusters of flower heads surrounding the stem near the top. So far, they have had only rain (not much!). I would attach a photo if I could.. Thank you.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Verbascum thapsus (common mullein).  It is an introduced plant from Eurasia and Africa and is considerered invasive or noxious over most of North America; however, herbalists are enthusiastic about its medicinal properties and these properties are probably why early settler's to North America imported it sometime in the late 1700s.  Here are more photos and information.

If this doesn't appear to be your plant, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that accept photos for identification.

 

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