Monday, April 8, 2013

A Little Help with an Identification Please! Identified as American Columbo-Frasera caroliniensis

I really need some help with identifying this mystery plant growing on our land here in Middle Tennessee. The area this plant is growing in varies. It is wet, dry, sunny, shady, woodland, prairie, hilly-basically anything goes with this plant. The plant seems to form colonies. It is growing more in the shade than the sun but does grow in the sun too. 
This is an up close picture of the plant right now. It is not blooming and does not appear to be forming a bloom stalk. The new leaves have a tinge of purple. It is really quite an attractive thing. Mr. Fix-it thinks it is some kind of a groundcover plant. I honestly have no idea and have checked the wildflower book recommended for this area. 
This plant first came to our attention about a month ago when the Saint spotted it growing in the field. At first this emerging tip reminded me of a yucca. A better guess is what Randy said. Randy said it looks kind of like a lily. 
The root is tuberous and is quite fleshy. This is probably the secret to the plant's ability to spread into large colonies and to adapt to whatever surroundings it finds itself. 

One thing we have noticed is that it does not seem to grow all over the local area. My daughter's land in the same town has none of these plants and I can't seem to find any in the surrounding area by our large hillside. This may be a clue to the plants identity, but I am not sure. The elevation on our hill is about 620 MSL; which is a couple of hundred feet higher than most of the surrounding elevation. There are several springs that run through the area and out of the hill down to some streams. The soil is quite rich but fairly typical of Tennessee soil. There are not many rocks in the soil but the soil is severely congested with roots from woody plants.

Can anyone help me identify this mystery plant? I have already posted it on Facebook and no one was able to help there. Now that the plant is much larger perhaps one of my friends can help now-or a reader of this blog can help identify it. If not, I guess I will wait until it blooms then post another photo if I don't figure it out before then. Thanks! 

in the garden....

Identification success: My friend Terri found it on another Tennessee blog called: Native Plants for Tennessee found here. This plant is actually American Columbo, aka Green Gentian, Frasera caroliensis. Thanks Terri!

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. I think it is a lily, I have one similar emerging in my garden. I cant remember which one but will have a look this evening to see if I can find a note

  2. Hi sure have some interesting things growing on your land. Maybe this is an indication that the soil is really good and anything you plant will do great!! (We can hope!!) I hope someone can identify these two plants.

  3. It looks like some kind of Asian lily to me. I've never seen anything like that growing "wild" here in southwest Tennessee. Perhaps rather than being a "wild" or "native" plant, it's a domestic remnant -- leftover from an old homestead (or more recent owner who decided to plant some lilies in that field -- maybe leftover from a funeral).

  4. Oh my, it has not grown into anything what I assumed it would be! A pretty vibrant shade of green color though. Hum, will be interesting to see what this plant turns out to be. Wild, planted many years ago, who knows? Will be looking for that follow up for sure.... Sun, shade, dry, wet ha, sounds just like a weed to me! :-) ha ha

  5. Hi

    I have done some rooting around on the internet to try and remind myself what it is and I am pretty sure its Lilium Martagon which I think is a native of the US. I have exactly the same shoot in my border and that is what came up - I was expecting something completely different as it was labelled wrong when I bought it. Mine grows well in a shady border

    1. It looks very close Helen! I hope this is indeed what it turns out to bloom as that is a mighty pretty lily!

  6. It looks so familiar, but I can't think of what it is, sorry. Carolyn

  7. I was at a friend's house this afternoon, and it also looks kind of like some loosestrife that she has coming up in her garden, so that may be a possibility. It's hard to tell without being able to actually compare a leaf. All will be revealed when it blooms!

  8. no idea but looking forward to seeing it bloom

  9. I too am unsure since I have not seen it grow here. It does look like a lily.

  10. I have no clue but I do like the lilies. Turks Cap sure got my attention in the mtns. Do let us know when you find out for sure.

  11. Okay you all we have an answer from one of my local friends!!! Terrie-Thank you!!!! Good job! And thank you to everyone who tried to help me identify it. Are you all ready?? It IS indeed a native plant and while common it is rare in some areas including its range. And to think we have tons:) It is Frasera caroliniensis, commonly called American Columbo or green gentian. It does indeed bloom! Here are some links to check it out.

    And Terrie found it on a little blog endemic to Tennessee:

    Way cool!! Thanks again Terrie!

  12. Here is a good picture of it in bloom. Can't wait to see it on the land! And I will take measures to save it.

  13. Hooray for fellow bloggers to help with the id!

  14. That's great you were able to identify it. Isn't the internet gardening community awesome!