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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - September 06, 2012

From: Beaumont, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Visual difference between Strophostyles umbellata and S. helvola
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I know that Strophostyles umbellata is perennial and S. helvola is an annual, but can you tell me how to visibly distinquish between S. umbellata and S. helvola.

ANSWER:

You are right that Strophostyles umbellata (Pink fuzzybean) is a perennial and Strophostyles helvola (Amberique-bean) is an annual.   Here are the differences that separate the two according to Correll and Johnston's Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas:

"Bracts at base of individual flowers blunt, half as long as the calyx tube or less; leaflets without conspicuous lobes at base, 3 to 8 times as long as wide.....S. umbellata.

Bracts at base of individual flowers acute, as long as the calyx tube or longer; leaflets lobed at base or (if not lobed) the leaflets 1 to 3 times as long as wide......S. helvola.

Here are more photos and information, including the botanical descriptions, from Missouri Plants for S. umbellata and S. helvola .  Note that the description on the Missouri Plants page for S. umbellata says that there are three species of Strophostyles [Strophostyles leiosperma (Slickseed fuzzybean), as well as S. umbellata and S. helvola] in Missouri and that the best way to distinguish between the three is by noting the differences in the bracts.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pink fuzzybean
Strophostyles umbellata

Pink fuzzybean
Strophostyles umbellata

Trailing fuzzybean
Strophostyles helvola

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Bibliography

Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston

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