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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

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 - February 20, 2003

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Smarty Plants on epiphytes
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

Can you identify the "air plants" that are hanging in the trees? They are grayish-green, and hang down like a necklace.

ANSWER:

The plant that you are probably referring to is called Ball Moss (Tillandsia recurvata (small ballmoss)and is an epiphyte, or a plant that grows on other plants but does not take nutrients from them. The leaves and stems of ball moss absorb water & nutrients from the air, earning these plants and their related plants (bromeliads) the nickname of "air plant". The native range of this plant includes southern Texas, but has been distributed throughout the state by humans (ie. riding on transplanted trees, etc.). Local spread occurs by windblown seed.

 

From the Image Gallery


Small ball moss
Tillandsia recurvata

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