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
1 rating

Saturday - August 28, 2010

From: Salida, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of ethereal plant in Colorado
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We live in the south central mountains of Colorado in the upper Arkansas River valley near Salida, Colorado. During the past few weeks we have noticed a very mystic looking plant (flower/grass?) along the roads and trails, mixed in with other native grasses and flowers. But this plant looks like a spider web and when the sun shines on it early in the morning with dew, it appears to be "ground fog", very ethereal and unusual. There are very large patches of it, but it seems to be centered in appx. a 5 square mile area. I can't remember ever seeing it, or anyway noticing it this way, before. Ideas?


Here are a few possibilities for plants in your area with an ethereal look. 

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume)

Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius (squirreltail)

Eragrostis trichodes (sand lovegrass) and here are photos.

Muhlenbergia mexicana (Mexican muhly) and here are photos.

If none of these happens to be what you are seeing, please take photos and send them to us and we will do our best to identify the plant.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.  We will definitely need closeups of the plants, as well as a photo showing the overall effect of the plants, in order to be able to identify them.

Fallugia paradoxa

Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius



More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID at Wildflower Center from Waco TX
June 18, 2012 - I was at the Center last weekend and no one was able to answer these two questions: 1. Where can I buy Silver Ponyfoot groundcover? 2. What is the name of the plant with coral blossoms in front of...
view the full question and answer

Name for paloverde look-alike near Colorado Springs
July 26, 2011 - I don't know where this plant comes from. However, I am wondering what the name of plant of the following description would be. It is a shrub, about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. It grows in zone 6 t...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 23, 2008 - Hi from Baton Rouge, I was out in Livingston Parish a week ago and saw a small tree that I had never seen before. I can't paste a picture here. It's sort of like an Osage Orange but the flowers a...
view the full question and answer

Books for plant identification of native California species
March 14, 2008 - When I was going to college, many years ago, there was a field book for plant identification for California native species. I am trying to find that book again or at least a good pocket book on plant...
view the full question and answer

Plants indigenous to Sedona, AZ
July 07, 2010 - I live in Sedona AZ and I want to plant indigenous plants in my garden. Is there a list of AZ native plants shrubs and trees that are indigenous to Sedona? If there is no list that is specific f...
view the full question and answer

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