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

Yellow-blossomed Shrub that Occurs in Arizona and Texas
May 08, 2012 - What is the name of the large shrubs you will see in Arizona with the bright yellow blossoms. They grow wild everywhere, and I also see them in the town. Could you please tell me the name of them, s...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
October 13, 2008 - We have 105 acres in Mid Michigan. Part of this land is marshland. There is a plant-flower that I have never seen before and no one knows what it is. It is on a long stem with long skinny leaves (2...
view the full question and answer

What is the plant called wingspan?
September 21, 2014 - I have a lot of environmental allergies and saw a positive result for "wingspan" yet I cannot find ANY information online about that particular plant. I was told it's "tumbleweed" by the medical ...
view the full question and answer

How to distinguish Malvaviscus arboreus from M. a. var. drummondii?
May 28, 2010 - I have a Turk's Cap plant. How do I tell if it is Malvaviscus arboreus or Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii?
view the full question and answer

Incomplete question from Austin TX
June 16, 2012 - If I asked this same question but in regards to Austin TX what would the answer be? My 2 plants have spent 2 winters indoors (they are huge now and never stop blooming), but am wondering about leaving...
view the full question and answer

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