Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Tuesday - May 30, 2006

From: Norfolk, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Existence of plant named
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

My mother's middle name is Orabelle - "beautiful seacoast." Some variations are "Orabel" and "Ord." Is there a plant that is so named and where might I be able to purchase it? I live in Norfolk, Virginia.

ANSWER:

That beautiful name does sound like it should be shared by a lovely flower, but no genus, species, subspecies, or varietal name like that currently exists, according to the International Plant Names Index, a standard reference for looking up scientific plant names.

It seems more likely that a horticultural cultivar would receive an evocative female name, and we did find a mention in an academic journal of a German cultivar of winter rapeseed called Brassica napus ssp. oleifera 'Orabel'. Rapeseed is a plant in the mustard family from which we get canola oil. Unfortunately, the journal only mentioned it in passing as part of a list of German rapeseed cultivars. There was no picture of it and we haven't found more information about it, but it wasn't bred for looks so I doubt it's what you had in mind.

My guess is that there may well have been ornamental cultivars with the name 'Orabelle' or 'Orabel' in the nineteenth century, when those names were more common than they are now. Finding records of that could be daunting, as various kinds of cultivated plants have their own International Cultivar Registration Authority organizations through which new cultivars are registered. It might take contacting some of these Registration Authorities to find out if any cultivars ever carried your mother's name.

For more on plant naming conventions, see this summary.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
May 13, 2014 - I am trying to identify a plant. The leaves looks like cannabis, (I know its not) its has red flowers and grows a green seed pod that turns yellow and falls off. It usually contains 3 or 4 seeds in th...
view the full question and answer

Good website for identifying wildflowers
April 27, 2008 - What is a good website to identify wildflowers? I have done Google searches and none of the websites seem to help. Where should I go?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID by pictures from Boise ID
May 01, 2014 - DEAR WILDFLOWER CENTER, TOOK SOME PICTURES A WEEK AGO--THE BOISE BOTANICAL GARDEN IDENTIFIED THE HENBIT BUT COULDN'T IDENTIFY THE REDDISH CYLINDRICAL FLOWERS IN PHOTO #4--CAN YOU HELP? YOU CAN FIND...
view the full question and answer

Cottage pink
October 07, 2007 - What is the flower cottage pink?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 22, 2010 - I live in Austin. Texas. My garden has been lying fallow for several seasons and earlier this week I started clearing the weeds and wild flowers in hopes of getting our vegetable garden started again...
view the full question and answer

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