En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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


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


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

Grass for Seattle Arboretum
May 20, 2012 - I am writing to you on behalf of the Arboretum at South Seattle Community College Arboretum. I am interested in Panicum virgatum Switch Grass as a plant for a very heavy clay garden in our Arboretum a...
view the full question and answer

Plant that can move from outside to inside for Denton, TX
December 14, 2008 - I am looking for a plant that is either native to Texas or is well acclimated to the Denton TX area that can move from a covered outside area to an adjacent indoor area behind large glass walls, to a ...
view the full question and answer

Blueberries & Raspberries for Walla Walla WA
October 17, 2011 - Which blueberry and raspbery plants grow best and suvive winter in Walla Walla Washington
view the full question and answer

Where to find Horseherb seed
August 02, 2015 - I would like to purchase some Horseherb seeds. Can you tell me where I can do that? Either locally or on line. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Texas natives to plant in July and August
July 23, 2008 - My husband and I have a disaster of a lawn that we were planning to develop slowly, over time, with a sustainable design we contracted from a landscape designer. However, we are having to move out of...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center