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

Tuesday - July 03, 2012

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Flower with spike of yellow flowers with hairy purple filaments
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Fuzzy purple stamens! I can't find this plant identified anywhere. Blooms abt 1" or a little more across. 5 yellow petals, 5 sepals, & 5 stamens with yellow anthers, & the filaments are covered with long purple hairs. Blooms whorled around a spike 2-4' tall, seen next to wetland & in a meadow. Blooms are quickly followed by large hard capsules. A clasping, cordate to ovate leaf beneath each flower-stem. What the heck is this lovely thing, and I hope hope hope it's native!

ANSWER:

This does sound like a beautiful plant.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find it in our Native Plant Database.  The plants that do come to mind, however, are the Verbascum species.  They are about 2 feet tall with spikes of yellow flowers.  In particular, Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein) is described as having hairy purple stamen filaments.  The flower petals can be yellow or white tinged with pink.   It is not, unfortunately, a native plant but an introduced species from Eurasia.  Its distribution includes nearly all of North America and it appears on the Colorado State List of Noxious Weeds.  There are other species of Verbascum, all introduced, that occur in North America and some even occur in Oregon, but none have the hairy purple filaments like those of V. blattaria.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Was my grandmother growing a Honeysuckle Bush in Middleton, Idaho?
May 17, 2010 - I would like to know the name of the flowering bush that grew in the backyard of my grandmother's house in Middleton, Idaho. I remember it to be purple in color and had petals with what I used to ca...
view the full question and answer

Distinguish between Huisache and Goldenball Leadtree
March 23, 2008 - How do you distinguish between Huisache (Acacia farnesiana) and Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa)? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Is there a Salvia azurea var. alba?
February 03, 2008 - Is there a Salvia azurea var. alba?
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with red berries in Kentucky
January 14, 2012 - I live in Laurel CO, KY. I am trying to identify a shrub/tree. The leaves are green and may turn reddish orange. There are huge pods of red berries hanging.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 13, 2008 - Bought a plant don't know what it is or how to care for it. It looks like it's dying. Description: light to dark green, long, skinny, rounded trunk, surrounded and topped with grass like blades(top ...
view the full question and answer

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