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

Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Randolph, VT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Poisonous Plants
Title: Identification of plant with orange sap that glows at night
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I was just pulling up a plant and noticed that its sap was a kind of orange then I noticed it glowing orange at night. What kind of plant is this and is it dangerous?

ANSWER:

There are many plants with orange/yellow sap and since you didn't describe the plant itself, I can't really identify it. I did search for sap that glows/luminesces/fluoresces at night but found only one reference. Chelidonium majus (Greater celadine), a native of Europe, has orange sap, is considered invasive and highly toxic and, according to one source, is luminescent.  This is the only plant that I found with orange sap that is reported to be luminescent, but there are other candidates with orange sap.

Another plant that has orange sap is also considered to be the most toxic plant native to North America—the deadly Cicuta species (water hemlocks)Both Cicuta bulbifera (Bulblet-bearing water hemlock) and Cicuta maculata (Spotted water hemlock) grow in Vermont.  You can check the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System to read about the toxicity of other Cicuta species.  If this is the plant you pulled up, you will probably want to be sure it doesn't regrow and be very cautious handling it.

All of the members of the Family Papaveraceae (Poppy Family) have yellow-orange or milky white sap.  Your plant could have been either of these that happens to grow in Vermont.  The plants in the poppy family that grow in Vermont are:

Argemone mexicana (Mexican prickly poppy) is mildly toxic.

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot) is highly toxic.

There are, no doubt, other plants with orange sap.  If you have a photo of the plant, you can visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

 


 

More Plant Identification Questions

Smarty Plants on forbs
October 16, 2005 - What kind of plant is a forb? I see the term used frequently in reference to grasses (I think), but I can't figure out exactly what a forb is.
view the full question and answer

Identification of fleshy green lobes on the ground
January 08, 2010 - I have been hiking in the Austin area and it is January: Noticing dark green, rubbery, lobe shaped sheets on the ground. Less then 2". Usually near low growing fuzzy moss clumps. There are many of...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree with round purple leaves
May 14, 2014 - What is tne name of the purple leaf tree whose leaves are spherical? Maybe 1 to 2" in diameter? A neighbor who has moved now, had one but cut it down before i could find out or rescue it. It wasnt ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of 50 ft. tree
May 20, 2008 - I live in Austin and I have a tall (50-ft) tree outside my window. It's deciduous and has shiny, deep green, spear-tip, serrated leaves that vary in size from about hand- to dinner-plate size. I've ...
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird plants and Indian Hawthorn
May 13, 2008 - I live in The Woodlands in a new section of homes. I planted some hummingbird plants in full sun and they did ok last year for 4 months, then lost all their leaves and died when the winter came. At ...
view the full question and answer

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