Rent Shop 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 - October 04, 2012

From: Dinwiddie, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a plant saprophytic on oaks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is name of plant poking up through the leaves near base of oak tree that appears as a cluster of yellow-brown stalks that resemble small pinecones or pineapples or cobs of corn?

ANSWER:

This sounds like Conopholis americana (American cancer-root), a saprophytic plant that feeds on the roots of oak trees.   Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers and from Plants of Wisconsin.  Here are photos from Southwest Virginia Flora.

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

 

From the Image Gallery


American cancer-root
Conopholis americana

American cancer-root
Conopholis americana

American cancer-root
Conopholis americana

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of oak trees in Pennsylvania
October 14, 2013 - I am an avid hunter in PA. I found these nuts and was wondering what kind they are. There is a red oak beside this tree, and I know what a white oak is but this tree and it's nuts look to be from a...
view the full question and answer

Are Yucca and Spanish dagger the same?
May 30, 2008 - We have Yucca, and we have Spanish Dagger. We don't think they are the same thing. Are they?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Crossville TN
July 12, 2009 - I live in Crossville TN and have found a common plant on hikes in the state park. It has long (1-1.5)narrow leaves that are green and deep red? What is it please?
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant in South Carolina with tiny purple flowers
August 02, 2013 - I found a plant while walking my dogs. I live in South Carolina. The plant gets maybe a foot tall, has a square stem and the top of plant is a candelabra with timy purple flowers in it. What is this...
view the full question and answer

Need an ID on a wisteria in Austin
October 12, 2010 - I bought a different type wisteria several years ago, before I started trying to grow native plants. It is the same type wisteria as the one planted at Threadgills on Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX....
view the full question and answer

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