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

Dodder
April 06, 2012 - I was driving around Llano, Texas and saw patches of orange amongst the wildflowers. From afar the patches seemed like dying plants. On close inspection, they are orange tendrils that are overrunnin...
view the full question and answer

Existence of plant named
May 30, 2006 - My mother's middle name is Orabelle - "beautiful seacoast." Some variations are "Orabel" and "Ord." Is there a plant that is so named and where might I be able to purchase it? I live in Norf...
view the full question and answer

Taxonomic question about Viola missouriensis and Viola affinis.
March 28, 2011 - I have tentatively identified a violet as either Viola affinis or V. missouriensis. However, the pages for those species are dated 2007 and 2009, respectively, in the NPIN, while it read...
view the full question and answer

Giant Thistle-Like Plant from Elgin, TX
June 01, 2014 - I have a giant thistle like plant in my field we have been unable to identify. It looks like a milk thistle but it is short..only about a foot tall..stocky...and the flowers are giant..about 6 to 8 i...
view the full question and answer

Identification of perennial with dark red/purple flowers
November 17, 2011 - Need to identify a lovely perennial here in Norfolk, Virginia. It reseeds itself, spreads, and lingers into the late fall. It has rather thick, dark green, alternate spatulate leaves at the base wit...
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