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 - 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

More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of Bidens aristosa (Tickseed sunflower) in Texas
November 20, 2015 - I think the ID of the plant I submitted a description of yesterday is Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Identification of pink flower photographed at the Wildflower Center
January 08, 2013 - Last August I took a photo at the Wildflower Center and now I'm trying to identify it. The flower has many pink petals that either stick straight out or downward and the center has pink frills edging...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, orange honeysuckle
December 14, 2009 - I have two potted trees in my yard. They have honeysuckle-shaped, orange flowers that bloom year long and the leaves also resemble those of honeysuckle. There were no identification tags on them whe...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 28, 2008 - Hello. There is a plant growing next to my 4 o'clocks that I didn't plant which is almost the same height as them, but has different leaves and it grows wider. It has these huge light green upside d...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 01, 2007 - I am trying to identify a wild flowering plant. It grows in pastures near Rhome Texas. How can I email a digital photo to you to look at it??
view the full question and answer

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