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
3 ratings

Tuesday - July 05, 2011

From: Roanoke, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plant identification of shrub with thorns and purple flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a small tree or shrub, it has very small or thin thorns on the branches. It blooms in April / May. The flowers are purple. My mother-in-law said that it has been around for over 100 years, but she can not recall the name. Can you help?

ANSWER:

Well, maybe.  So far I haven't been able to find your plant although I've consulted with several people about it and searched our Native Plant Database for it.  If it is a North American native plant (although I have my doubts) you might recognize it in our Native Plant Database.  You, yourself, can do a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing 'Indiana' from Select State or Province, 'Shrub' or 'Tree' from Habit (general appearance) and 'Pink', 'Blue', 'Purple' and 'Violet' from Bloom Characteristics–Color.  You will need to do two searches—one using 'Shrub' and the other using 'Tree'. If you can't find it in our Native Plant Database, it is likely that your tree or shrub is an introduced ornamental. Since our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America, we won't be able to help you identify introduced ornamentals.  For introduced ornamentals we recommend that you take photos of the plant and submit them to one of the plant identification forums whose links are on our Plant Identification page.  Be sure that you read the notes about submitting images for identification.   Good luck finding the identity of your plant.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID for that looks like lemon verbena
May 03, 2014 - I have a weed that looks a bit like Lemon Verbena with tiny purple flowers sprouting again this spring in my pasture. It seems to like sandy, acidy sunny areas and smells nice when you even brush up ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant from wildflower mix in Radcliff KY
June 17, 2010 - I bought a wildflower mixture from local store; after planting, there is a 2 ft bush or plant with flowers that are yellow, and small like those on a cantaloupe, leaves that look like a watermelon, bu...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 19, 2008 - Hi, I live in South West Michigan and there is this plant I can't figure out. It has oval leaves in a row on each side of its stems, large thorns, and when the plant is grown it has what seems to be...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
December 15, 2008 - I am looking for the name of the plant that looks like the spider plant but can survive the cold weather of the northeast. It looks just like the indoor spider plant but it does not produce offshoots....
view the full question and answer

Report on object glowing in tree in New Hampshire
August 04, 2013 - Hello again Mr Smartpants. I commented about a purple glow coming from a tree in previous comments. Since then they have multiplied and are spreading to different trees. We believe we may have it narr...
view the full question and answer

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