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

Identification of bush with red berries
March 11, 2013 - bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from New York
September 02, 2008 - I have a large leaf from a plant that my grandfather has. We live in Niagara county NY. The large leaf is green and has a red stem, growing on a stalk THICK like a sunflower, now has red or black berr...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
August 15, 2009 - I have this strange bright orangey-red plant growing in my yard that I have never seen before. It's about 3 inches tall that comes to a point on top and is hollow inside and very soft? What could i...
view the full question and answer

Searching for a dye made from a French weed
June 09, 2009 - Dear Mr smarty plants, I watched a gardening show on cable and they talked about a place in France where they use a weed called Wod to make dye and dye fabric and several other items to sell. It was ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
May 24, 2009 - It is a small, thin vine growing in the grass in the shadier parts of the lawn. Every 3-4 inches it has two thin stems about three inches long sprouting from almost exactly the same place on the vine...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center