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

Thursday - June 21, 2012

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of small plant with white flowers in Baltimore, MD
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

It's a small plant, has flowers in June, four white petals with large, tall conical center, about no more than an inch in diameter. The leaves are alternating with branched veins. It stays at about 6" high, grows in deep shade, comes in variegated as well. It is spreading through the lawn by its roots. One of my tenants planted it. It puts up with a lot of abuse. Baltimore is famous for its acidic clay soil.

ANSWER:

Since you said that one of your tenants planted it, Mr. Smarty Plants is very suspicious that this isn't a native plant.  However, I did do a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database choosing "Maryland" from the Select State or Province option, "Herb" from Habit (general appearance) and "White" from Bloom color.  You could do the same search on your own and look through the photos and read the descriptions.  I found the following four plants that partially fit your description:

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood).  Here are more photos and information from Plants of Wisconsin.

Cardamine concatenata (Cutleaf toothwort).  Here are more photos and information from Connecticut Botanical Society.

Cakile edentula (American searocket).  Here are more photos and information from Connecticut Botanical Society.

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry).  Here are more photos and information from Duke University.

Diodia virginiana (Buttonweed).  Here are more photos and information from Missouri Plants.

I suspect that none of these is the plant that is growing in your lawn.  However, if you have—or can take—photos, you will find links to several plant identification forums on our Plant Identification page that would accept your photos of the plant to be identified.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Cutleaf toothwort
Cardamine concatenata

American searocket
Cakile edentula

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Virginia buttonweed
Diodia virginiana

More Plant Identification Questions

Need identification of a bush with red bumpy berries in PA.
October 02, 2009 - Pennsylvania - We are trying to identify a bush that has small red bumpy berries. The berries are the size of a crab apple or a cherry. Can you tell us what it is?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
April 06, 2010 - In spot in the garden where tomatoes grew last this year, previous to planting what looks to me like a shamrock plant came up until it bloomed. Now it looks like some of the fuschia plants only the le...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a vine in Tennessee
June 14, 2014 - I have a beautiful vine with clusters approximately 70 feet All the way up a tree in a heavily wooded area. It seems to be evergreen or semi- evergreen. Can you help identify?
view the full question and answer

Identifying native sedges
October 14, 2013 - What's the best way to identify a specific sedge ?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Chicago
August 18, 2010 - When I was hiking in Portland, OR, my friend had me eat a leaf off of a trail-side plant. It tasted very much like sour apple, it was delicious. It has average-sized green leaves and in July it had no...
view the full question and answer

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