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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - December 12, 2011

From: Aurora, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Science Fair Question
Answered by: Anne Ruggles

QUESTION:

Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I'm working on a project for the science fair and I need to find a plant that can survive in all climates in order for my experiment to work. What plant should I use? I hope you can answer my question. Thank you for your time Sincerely Julie

ANSWER:

It may be tricky finding a native species that can grow under varying light, soil moisture, and temperature conditions, AND that you can propagate quickly especially at this time of the year (unless you are planning for next year’s Science Fair). Given that we will try to direct you to some sources.

1. Rudbeckia hirta   Black-eyed Susan is an annual herb native to Illinois that can grow in direct sun (6+ hrs/ day), part shade ((2-6 hrs/ day), and shade (2 or fewer hr/ day); and grows under dry, moist, or wet soil moisture conditions. It is a biennial plant thus does not flower the first year. This is a native plant that is fairly widely cultivated, thus seed is available.

The Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service has a list of local sources for wild plant seeds.

2. Chamaecrista fasciculate   Greene Partridge Pea is an annual herb native to Illinois that grows in sun or part-shade and under dry or moist soil conditions. This is also a native plant that is cultivated, so you should be able to find seeds.

The Chicago Botanic Garden has a very nice on-line resource that will let you enter the characteristics you are searching for and will point you to species that meet those criteria. You might also consider calling or visiting the Chicago Botanical Garden and asking them for direction to native plants that meet your criteria and for which you can find seeds or transplants.

If you cannot find a suitable native plant you might have to consider a non-native cultivar.

Good luck on your project.

 

From the Image Gallery


Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata

More General Botany Questions

Percentage of flowers that close up at night
July 19, 2007 - Percentage-wise, approximately how many species of flowers close up at night? Is there a list anywhere?
view the full question and answer

Blooms as far as the eye can see
March 06, 2008 - Why are some wildflowers capable of putting on spectacular sweeps of blooms "for as far as the eye can see" such as Indian paintbrush at Vail Pass in Colorado, or bluebonnets in the Texas hill count...
view the full question and answer

What is the difference between indigenous and native?
November 03, 2015 - What is the difference between indigenous and native?
view the full question and answer

Difference between class notes and size notes on website
August 09, 2012 - I enjoy using the native plant database in planning my flower beds. However, I don't know the difference between Class notes and size notes. Can you help me out?
view the full question and answer

How to distinguish male and female grape vines in Gage OK.
August 19, 2012 - Are there male and female plants for wild grapes? If so, how do we tell the difference?
view the full question and answer

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