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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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Tuesday - October 02, 2012

From: Molino , FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identity of tree with pumpkin-like fruit in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello. I live in a small town called Molino FL. I was walking on the side of our road and found a tree with pumpkin type fruit on the limbs. I have been trying to figure this tree out for about 3 months. It has had fruit on it for 3 months, also. The fruit is green with a light orange color and the size is 2"1/2 inch wide by 2" high. The leaves are large heart-shaped and dark green in color. The leaves are 9" long by 7"1/2 wide. I can send pictures if you would like. THANK YOU.

ANSWER:

Your description sounds like Thespesia populnea (Portia tree or Seaside mahoe).  It is found in tropical coastal areas around the world but considered native to the Old World and is considered by some people to be native to Hawaii.  Here are more photos and information from Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers and photos of the fruit from Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  It is categorized as a Category I invasive plant by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.

If this isn't the plant that you have seen, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

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