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

Thursday - May 24, 2012

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Fiber and dye plants at the Wildflower Center from Round Rock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Julie Marcus

QUESTION:

When I visited the Wildflower Center recently I noticed a garden labeled as containing fiber and dye plants, but the individual plants and their uses were not all labeled. I would be very interested to know what all the plants were and their fiber and dye applications. There was a variety of flax, for example - is the native variety ever made into linen as European flax is? The goldenrod I'm guessing was included as a dye plant, but there was also Mexican Hat and I'd like to know what dye or fiber-producing application that has. Also Indian Blanket - what does that do?

ANSWER:

Very kindly provided to Mr. Smarty Plant by Julie Marcus, on our Horticultural Staff, here is a list of what is presently in our Fiber and Dye Plants garden display. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn about its growing conditions, etc. Often, under Benefits on that page, medicinal or edibility will be discussed. Go down that webpage to the bottom, under Additional Resources, and click on "Google:Search Google for (plant name)." This will give you pages and pages of possible references on the uses of the plants.

Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm)

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel)

Abutilon fruticosum (Indian mallow)

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (Four-nerve daisy)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Solidago nemoralis (Gray goldenrod)

Glandularia bipinnatifida (Purple prairie verbena)

Linum lewisii (Wild blue flax)

Dasylirion wheeleri (Common sotol)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Clematis drummondii (Drummond's clematis)

As an example, you asked about the use of Linum lewisii (Wild blue flax) for fiber. Turns out that another species of the genus Linum, Linum usitatatissum, is the one used for fibre. This article from Purdue will tell you many different uses of the plant for medicinal, edibilty, and fiber. It will also tell you that the species is native from the eastern Meditteranean to India, and was used by many ancient cultures. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America, but also to the areas where they grow natively, so that particular Linum will not be found in our Native Plant Database. We found no indication that our native flax had any fiber uses.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Indian mallow
Abutilon fruticosum

Four-nerve daisy
Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa

Berlandier's sundrops
Calylophus berlandieri

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida

Wild blue flax
Linum lewisii

Common sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Engelmann's daisy
Engelmannia peristenia

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani


More Medicinal Plants Questions

List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area
September 15, 2011 - Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants that grew here before cultivation, eradication or...
view the full question and answer

How to grow Blue Cohosh in Lewisville TX
May 05, 2010 - I bought Blue Cohosh seeds from an online website, but I do not know how or where to plant them and what will guarantee germination, and the instructions that came with the package are very vague. The...
view the full question and answer

Comptonia peregrina tea as topical treatment for poison ivy
July 19, 2007 - I have been told that Sweet Fern stewed into a tea is a great topical treatment for poision ivy. Is this true?
view the full question and answer

Food and medicinal value of Parsley Hawthorn
March 01, 2013 - I have found several sites that talk about how the parsley hawthorn is edible and how the hawthorn berry in general is really great for the heart, but I did not find any mention of this on your info a...
view the full question and answer

Treating stings from stinging nettles in Indiana
August 08, 2009 - How can I remove hairlike thorns (as from nettle-type weed)? My hands react within 24 hours with swelling and pain, esp in morning. In past when I have then been able to locate the offending thorn, th...
view the full question and answer

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