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
1 rating

Monday - October 08, 2007

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Marbleseed (Onosmodium sp.) propagation and use as groundcover for
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am interested in any information, esp. propagation & suitability as a landscape plant, (possible ground cover?) for marble seed. I have found it growing in deep shade on stream banks. It has a 4--6" strap-like, dark green leaf. The seed is perfectly round, smooth and white, and about the size of a small piece of perlite. I have asked other native plant friends, but no one knows of this plant and I have been told it is rather rare.


There are two species of marbleseed, Onosmodium helleri (Heller's marbleseed) and Onosmodium bejariense var. bejariense (soft-hair marbleseed) that occur in Texas and both have been reported from Williamson and Travis counties. Of the two, O. helleri is the rarer, endemic to only eight counties of the Edwards Plateau and Lampasas Cut Plain. I suspect you have found O. bejariense var. bejariense (syn. Onosmodium molle), but you can find a key in Shinners & Mahler's Flora of North Central Texas on pp. 453-454 (the entire book is accessible online in downloadble pdf files) to determine which you have found. Both species are attractive but can grow as tall as 3 feet so they may be more suitable for including as accent plants rather than as a groundcover.


From Sean Watson, the nursery manager of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

"We sow seeds in Spring in our greenhouse, using sterile seed germinating mix and intermittent misting (about every hour for 6 seconds). Just cover the seed with media, about 1/8" deep. They do benefit from some shade when trying to germinate them. I have also sown them as late as July with success (again I gave them more shade)."

There is also information about the propagation of O. bejariense var. bejariense (syn. Onosmodium molle) from Dave's Garden.com.

Onosmodium helleri

Onosmodium helleri


Onosmodium bejariense var. bejariense

Onosmodium bejariense var. bejariense

More Groundcovers Questions

Shade Tolerant Grasses and Groundcovers for Waco TX
March 15, 2013 - What is the best shade-tolerant grass? What is the best shade-tolerant ground cover?
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Orange County, California
August 05, 2012 - What ground cover do you suggest for an Orange Co., CA, backyard with a steep slope in 3-4 hours of sun? Needs to grow fast to beat the weeds. Something pretty would be nice! Thanks
view the full question and answer

Native plants for groundcover under Magnolia in Austin
April 09, 2009 - What plants native to the Austin, Tx area will do well underneath a large magnolia tree (instead of the English ivy that is there)?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID at Wildflower Center from Waco TX
June 18, 2012 - I was at the Center last weekend and no one was able to answer these two questions: 1. Where can I buy Silver Ponyfoot groundcover? 2. What is the name of the plant with coral blossoms in front of...
view the full question and answer

Low growing erosion control plants for lakeside in Washington Township NJ
May 12, 2013 - I live on a small lake in Northern NJ and have installed beautiful Boulders along the water to help stop erosion. Now I want to add plants along the property but would like low growing, soil retentio...
view the full question and answer

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