En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
14 ratings

Saturday - June 23, 2007

From: London, Other
Region: Other
Topic: General Botany
Title: Where do plants grow?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Where do plants grow?


Plants grow everywhere. They grow on land, in the ocean, in lakes and rivers, on mountain tops, and in the desert. Even Antarctica, perhaps the harshest climate in the world, has two flowering plants. Pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) and Antarctic hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica). In the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic) the growing season is very short, less than three months, and limited to when the soil warms enough to thaw. The predominant plants are grasses and sedges and most plants remain very short, usually less than one foot or 20 cm. One of the Antarctic plants, Deschampsia antarctica, has adapted to its harsh environment by producing antifreeze proteins.

Deserts also have flowering plants. Many of the desert plants have special adaptations to survive long periods without water. One of the major adaptations is to have a small surface area to reduce water loss. Desert plants tend to have small leaves that are thick and waxy, or no leaves at all. Succulent desert plants, such as the cacti, are able to store water in their thick stems.

Plants grow in the mountains at very high elevations such as in the Himalayas in Nepal Mosses and lichens are found as high as 6300 meters (~20,600 feet). The vascular plant Stellaria decumbens, has been found growing in mats at 6100 m (~20,000 feet). Not only do they have to contend with cold temperatures and short growing seasons, but they also have to deal with increased levels of UV light because of the thin atmosphere. Many of them have a red pigment, anthocyanin, that helps protect them from the high levels of UV light.


More General Botany Questions

Does music affect sunflower growth from Pentwater MI
January 12, 2010 - Does music affect sunflower growth?
view the full question and answer

Burn the wetlands
June 02, 2010 - Can the wetlands of Louisiana that have been soaked in oil be burned? I am a native plant gardener in the midwest. Burning is a natural process in the prairie. Southerners are not used to this and ma...
view the full question and answer

More information on plants native to Taylor County TX
February 13, 2012 - Re: Thursday - September 15, 2011 QUESTION: Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on science projects
October 24, 2005 - Hello, i am a 6th grade student at a middle school in GA. I am doing a science project and my question is, "Does music affect plant growth?" Is there a plant that would work best for me to experiment...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Wildflowerology
July 08, 2005 - I know there is a word for everything, but I can't find the offical word for the study of wildflowers. Wildflowerology just doesn't sound right. Can you help?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center