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?

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

Wednesday - December 10, 2008

From: Arabian Gulf,
Region: Other
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Epiphytic or halophytic trees and shrubs
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello I was searching on this issue, but couldn't find what I really want, and I would be great full for your assistance. Please could you help me to find the scientific name for the "Trees" or "plants" (not Epiphytes) that can grow in a place that have high humidity percentage during the whole year, (about 60% to 85% some times more), but in the same time it has very week silty dry soil with saline underground water. I know about the "Epiphytes". But from my reading I found that they are small plants and needs another host like trees to grow over them. However, they produce their food independently. But what I'm looking for is a kind of real independent tree or shrub that can grow and get its needs from the air humidity. What about "Zizyphus Spina Christi"? I appreciate your help. And hope you nice day :)

ANSWER:

We think you're looking for halophytes (salt-tolerant plants) rather than epiphytes.  You are right that epiphytes derive most, if not all, of their nutrition and water from the air rather than through the roots.  The roots of epiphytic plants are often of use solely as anchors to hold the plants to some substrate such as the branch of a tree or a rock.  We know of no trees or shrubs that derive all of their water from the atmosphere in the conditions you describe.  However, there are some rain forest ephiphytic trees, strangler fig (various species) being a good example.

You do not say exactly where you're located other than to say that you're on the Arabian Gulf.  However, the environmental conditions you describe are not all that unusual in many parts of the world.  Since the extent of our research and the limits of our expertise are limited to those plants native to North America, we really don't think we can give you more specific recommendations.  We do not have sufficient information to give you an opinion about the adaptability of Sisyphus spina-cristi to the conditions you describe.

Our general advice, though, would be to look for plants already growing in or on the periphery of the area about which you're concerned since these plants will be best adapted to the growing conditions in that place.

A University of Karachi organization, The Institute for Sustainable Halophyte Utilization, might be of some help to you.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Identification of thorny shrub with blue berries
May 24, 2011 - Thorny shrub with blue berries. In our acid sandy loam we have many thorn bushes. This one has small leaves like a wild pomegranate, long thorns. berries of the size and color of blueberries and is ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering tree with non-invasive roots from Palos Verde CA
June 24, 2013 - Want a flowering tree with noninvasive roots for Palos Verdes, CA.
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree or shrub from Simms TX
February 13, 2011 - Thought you might have the expertise to help identify this tree/shrub? They were planted about 10 years ago and started in a pot about 2 feet high. I have photos but not sure how to send them to you; ...
view the full question and answer

Low-Maintenance Hedge for Massachusetts
February 17, 2014 - I want to put in a native low-maintenance hedge in a sunny spot with plants that can take dry soil. I would like the plants to grow to less than 4 feet wide. It can be an informal hedge, but I don't ...
view the full question and answer

Xeriscaping in clay on a slope in Fort Worth
April 06, 2006 - Xeriscaping in clay (Fort Worth) on a slope -- Please offer suggestions and publications. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center