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

Saturday - July 18, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Does a cenizo really predict rain in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, folklore has it that the flowering of Cenizo (aka Barometer Bush) is a predictor of rain fall. The Cenizo in South Austin is blooming profusely right now. Does this portend a Noachian event here in Austin? If so, the local weather forecasters are missing the tipoff, since the current weather predictions contain minimal chances for rain. Is there really any link between the flowering of Cenizo and imminent rain fall? Thanks, weatherwatcher

ANSWER:

We had heard the same tale that blooming on a Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) was a predictor of rain; however, our observation was that they were much more likely to bloom AFTER a rain, rather than before. We searched around for someone more expert than we are to tell us the truth. The consensus is that this flowering is triggered by high humidity or soil moisture after it rains. If there is a lot of humidity in the air, even if it hasn't rained yet, that can cause blooming too. This plant can bloom intermittently 12 months of the year, and is really a tough desert plant. Apparently, there has been a lot of humidity in the Austin area lately, although who could believe it, with the heat?  So, does all the blooming around Austin (and we have noticed it, too) portend rain? We can only hope.


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Failure to bloom of tropical plumeria
July 04, 2008 - I have had my plumeria for the past five years. The first three years it bloomed but has not the past two. The plant is healthy and continues to grow but will not flower. It seems to be very health...
view the full question and answer

Potential allelopathy of cultivar of Artemisia ludoviciana
March 09, 2009 - I recently submitted a question regarding allelopathic potential of artemisia ludoviciana on rusty blackhaw viburnum, not specifying that I meant Vibernum rufidulum. Mr. SP interpreted my viburnum as...
view the full question and answer

Taking stock in where and what you grow in Denver Colorado
December 22, 2011 - I have two year old stock plants growing in a container in my home and they are finally starting to bloom. However, the buds open but don't produce any petals. Also they are experiencing yellow leave...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for cutting garden in Starkville MS
July 29, 2010 - I would like to know the native plants to put in a cutting garden.
view the full question and answer

Will several Penstemon species hybridize?
March 19, 2013 - I have Penstemon cobaea, Penstemon triflorus, Penstemon cardinalis, and Penstemon murrayanus in my landscape. Will they hybridize with each other?
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