En Español

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

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

Monday - July 23, 2007

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Identification of
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I'm trying to identify a plant and I'm having trouble doing so. The plant was called moss by my mother,but it looks like a succulent. It grows on the ground and looks like small vines with pink stems,plump green leaves,and little yellow flowers in the spring. Also, if the parts are torn or cut off they will grow if replanted better than any plant I have ever seen. What is this?


If it had not been for a sweet mother-in-law who always had "moss" blooming in two big pots by her porch in East Texas, I would have been mystified as you. They certainly didn't look like any moss I had ever seen, especially with the bright, multicolored flowers. I later learned it was frequently called "moss rose" and then that it was actually a portulaca. The plant your mother called "moss", with its yellow flowers, is probably Portulaca oleracea, also referred to as common purslane or little hogweed. It grows virtually worldwide in warm and temperate climates, and is usually considered a weed. It has long been used in North America as a potherb and medicinal plant, probably since before the arrival of the first Europeans.

The plant my mother-in-law grew was, I believe, Portulaca grandiflora. This is the cultivated species more often referred to as a "moss rose." Unlike Portulaca oleracea, Portulaca grandiflora is not a native, but is the one most seen in cultivation. It blooms only when the sun is shining, in many bright colors.

If this still doesn't appear to be the flower you are trying to identify, please follow the directions to send us a picture on the first page of "Ask Mr. Smarty Plants."


From the Image Gallery

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Propagation of non-native Selenicereus Antonyanus from Warwick RI
March 24, 2012 - I just purchased a Selenicereus Anthonyanus, Rick Rack Cactus unrooted. I have searched on the web of the proper way to root the plant and have had no luck except it says easy rooting but not how to r...
view the full question and answer

Succulents, wildflowers and grasses for Austin
June 09, 2010 - I live on a bluff over Lake Travis and am replanting two beds in front of my driveway with Mexican Feathergrass and Agave. What other grasses or wildflowers could I mix in with the Mexican Feathergra...
view the full question and answer

Growth of yucca from seed pods from Saginaw MI
October 05, 2013 - How do you grow a yucca plant from the pods? Do I need to dry out the pods first?
view the full question and answer

Replanting a blue agave in Rio Rancho NM
January 11, 2010 - I have acquired a Blue Agave, approximately 4-5 ft high. It still appears quite healthy. It was used over the holiday season for display purposes in a liquor store. Unfortunately, the root ball has be...
view the full question and answer

Skin Reaction form Cochineal on Prickly Pear
February 16, 2015 - I have severe burning and peeling skin on pads of fingers after touching "white stuff" on a prickly pear. White stuff tuned purple then burned skin even after washing hands. Skin has been cracking a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center