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?

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
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
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

Plant called crows foot/feet used to make wreaths at Christmas
December 20, 2008 - In Pennsylvania there was a green ground hugging vine I knew as "crow's feet/foot" we used in the 1950s at Christmas time for wreaths and window and door borders. It looked like a cluster of bird'...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
April 04, 2009 - I found a purple berry-like plant in my back yard. It has no leaves, and it is about 5 or 6 inches tall. Do you know what it is called?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers that grow in woodlands
June 22, 2011 - Please tell me the names of wildflowers that grow under your oak trees in Texas. I am only familiar with those open meadow plants, not those that live under the deciduous trees. Thank you for your t...
view the full question and answer

Identification of bluebonnet-like flower
May 14, 2012 - I have discovered a plant that looks like a bluebonnet but is much larger. It has leggy stems and similar leaf structure and the bonnet in more compact with purple vs blue flowers. The plant is growin...
view the full question and answer

Plant in Las Vegas with fern-like foliage and yellow/orange/red flowers
August 21, 2011 - We were in North Las Vegas and saw a beautiful plant, I would love to find it. It had a fern like foliage at the bottom with long thin stems and a flower clump at the top with yellow/orange/red flower...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center