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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 - August 19, 2011

From: Oklahoma City, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of daisy-like wildflower in New Mexico
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently visited Angel Fire, NM and I cannot identify the daisy-like wildflower that was growing there. August seemed to be the favorite time for this flower. I asked the local nursery and they thought it was from the cosmos family. The flower was all over and near the road on the side of a hill, would grow only 4 inches in well traveled areas and yet in areas where it wasn't trampled it would grow maybe three feet.

ANSWER:

You realize, probably, that the Family Asteraceae (Aster Family) with all the daisy-like species has the greatest number of species of all the flowering plant families with over 20,000 species.  Of course, they don't all grow in New Mexico, but the state has a large number.   So, it isn't too likely I could identify this flower you describe.   However, I can give you some help in figuring out what it is.  Here are some possibilities:

1.  Go to our Native Plant Database and, in the green box, scroll down the family list until you find Asteraceae (Aster Family).  Select it and click on "go".  This will give a list of more than 1000 North American species on our database.  Next use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option in the sidebar to select "New Mexico" from Select State or Province and "Aug" from Bloom Time.  You didn't say what color the flower is, but I'm guessing it is yellow.   You can select the color under Bloom Color.  This will narrow your choices down to 138 species of Asteraceae to look at that are yellow and bloom in August in New Mexico.  Maybe you can recognize it by looking through the choices.

2.  Visit the Native Plant Society of New Mexico website.   Look at their links under "Native Plants" for photos of flowers in the New Mexico area.   You could also contact them and give them a description (be sure to tell them the color of the flowers).  Since they are in the state, they will know what is blooming in profusion there right now.

3.  Visit our Plant Identification page.   There are links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos for identification if you have them.

 

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