Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Thursday - March 12, 2009

From: Driftwood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Name of algae on ground that swells after a rain
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the name of the algae looking stuff on the ground that swells up after rain. I thought it was "nostock" but I can't locate that name anywhere. Thanks!

ANSWER:

The name you are looking for is Nostoc.  They once were called "blue-green algae"; but they aren't algae and even though they can photosynthesize their own food, they aren't plants at all—they are cyanobacteria.  They are ancient organisms, the oldest known fossils.  The chloroplasts in plants (where photosynthesis takes place) originated when eukaryotic cells (those containing nuclei—bacteria don't have nuclei) started enclosing cyanobacteria in their cells.  The eukaryotic cells benefited from the cyanobacteria photosynthesizing food for them and the cyanobacteria benefited from the protection it gained in the eukaryotic cell.
 

More Plant Identification Questions

Is there an App for that?
June 05, 2012 - Do you have an app like leafsnap that my students can use to identify the plants around our school? I would like them to take a picture of the leaf of each plant with their iPads and have your data b...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant growing with purchased plant
September 23, 2013 - I purchased a heurchera and there was another plant that was growing in the pot with it. I planted both together in my garden. The "other" plant is growing and none of the gardeners around here has ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 04, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I have a plant that was given to me and told it was spider plant, but I don't believe it is. The plat grows up and has leaves coming out like a spider plant but they are gree...
view the full question and answer

Distinguish between Huisache and Goldenball Leadtree
March 23, 2008 - How do you distinguish between Huisache (Acacia farnesiana) and Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa)? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Plants of Texas Coastal Bend beaches
November 27, 2013 - What plants are native to the Texas Coastal Bend beaches?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.