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

Friday - May 18, 2012

From: New Era, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant resembling garlic mustard, but with purple flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

While searching for the invasive garlic mustard I am finding a very similar looking plant (triangular, alternate, toothed leaves; four petals, same habitat of shaded roadside and interior woods) except this plant has purple flowers and does not have a garlic odor when crushed. It is colonial, biennial, and exhibits a "C" curved root when pulled. It seems to be very abundant and forming colonies in areas of trilliums and Jack-in-the-Pulpits. Any advice as to the identity of this plant and whether or not it should be treated as invasive? Thank you.

ANSWER:

A likely possibility for the plant you are seeing that resembles Alliaria petiolata (Garlic mustard) is Hesperis matronalis (Dame's rocket) and it is considered invasive in some areas.  Here are more photos and information from the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide and from Missouri Botanical Garden.

You can see some native plants that are poosibilities by doing a search in our Native Plant Database.  Choose "Brassicaceae" from the list of Families.   When the list comes up use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose "Michigan" from the Select State or Province option and then "Pink", "Purple" and "Violet" from Bloom Color.

If neither Hesperis matronalis (Dame's rocket) nor any of the native plants in our Native Plant Database is the plant you have seen, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that accept photos for identification.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Understory planting in Virginia
July 03, 2009 - We have some 10 mature tulip and sycamore trees in our No. VA property. The previous home owners were fond of English Ivy and Japanese pachysandra. We are working hard at replacing these invasives to ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of non-native invasive Ligustrum japonica from Austin
February 14, 2012 - I bought a house that I am slowly turning into a native garden, but as a teacher, I have a really small budget. One entire border of my backyard (30 feet) was planted with evil Ligustrum japonica. I l...
view the full question and answer

Identification and replacement of chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach)
April 24, 2007 - I am trying to identify and locate a native tree. We live in Fairview, near Allen, Texas. It is in bloom now. It has fragrant small lavender 5 petal flowers in clusters. They develop into yellow/t...
view the full question and answer

Coltsfoot invasive in Rindge NH
July 21, 2009 - I live in Rindge NH. My question is how do I stop colts foot from taking over my land? It is getting out of hand.
view the full question and answer

Soapberry suckers in Austin
July 23, 2011 - Western Soapberry. Cut it down many months ago. Now I have baby trees all over the lawn. Are these the berries or are they coming from roots even though some sprouts are quite a distance away. I pul...
view the full question and answer

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