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?

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
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
2 ratings

Friday - January 08, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of fleshy green lobes on the ground
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have been hiking in the Austin area and it is January: Noticing dark green, rubbery, lobe shaped sheets on the ground. Less then 2". Usually near low growing fuzzy moss clumps. There are many of them in one patch on the ground, but seem to be singular wrinkled green lobes. -Are these "Liverworts" or some form of the moss reproduction? I can find a lot of Liverwort photos- but none that look close to what we are seeing in Central Texas.

ANSWER:

What you are seeing is a type of Cyanobacteria called Nostoc commune.  Actually, it is a colony of single-celled cyanobacteria.  They have often been called blue-green algae because of their color and the fact that they are photosynthetic like the true algae.  However, the cyanobacteria are prokaryotes—meaning that their DNA is not held within a membrane-bound nucleus; whereas, true algae are eukaryotes with a membrane-bound nucleus. In fact, it is thought that the chloroplasts in green plants that carry out photosynthesis were derived during early evolution by the inclusion of cyanobacteria into their cells.  Here is a little more information about the cyanobacteria. Nostoc is an amazing organism because of its ability to withstand desiccation and extreme temperatures.  It occurs worldwide—from the Tropics to the Arctic and Antarctic.  As long as there is sufficient moisture you'll find Nostoc as the rubbery, green structures on the ground; but as soon as the weather gets dry, it will be there as rather unspectacular dried black mats.   Here are photos and more photos of Nostoc commune.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Information about native aconitum
February 27, 2008 - There was a picture of a plant in our local newspaper this past week. In the photo ID they called this plant an aconite, a member of the buttercup family. My questions are: is there such a plant? is i...
view the full question and answer

Identity of recently purchased plant from Somerset MA
March 29, 2011 - I just bought a plant at Home Depot but it came with no tag. It has fairly large greyish green paddle shaped leaves, the leave stalks are pretty thick. Can you tell me what kind of plant do I have? I ...
view the full question and answer

Native North American bulbs
August 19, 2011 - I saw your list of 4 lilies native to the Northeastern United States, which was very helpful. What other bulbs are native to North America? Although I garden in Connecticut, I am interested in learn...
view the full question and answer

Identification of pink flower near Austin
April 10, 2008 - My mother found a flower early this spring at Chrystal Falls park just outside of Austin. It was between red and salmon pink in color, tubular in shape and about 4 inches long. It smells very bad, a...
view the full question and answer

Is there a variety of bluebonnet called black gumbo
February 04, 2008 - I live in Grimes County, Texas on the eastern edge of the Blackland Prairie. A few years ago my hillside of Bluebonnet seed was harvested. I was told it was a rare 'black gumbo' variety of bluebon...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center