En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - December 07, 2011

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pollinators, Wildlife Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native plants in Denton Co. TX pollinated by bats or hummingbirds
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am looking for a list of Denton Co. TX native plants that are pollinated by bats? Do we have any? How about hummingbirds?


We couldn't find any such list already prepared, so perhaps we can give you tips for finding out what kinds of flowers are pollinated by bats, and then whether any of those plants are native to Denton County. From Wikipedia, we extracted this paragraph that seems to answer at least part of your question.

"Bat pollination is chiropterophily. Most bat species that pollinate flowers inhabit Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, although bat pollination occurs over a geographically wide range. Many fruits are dependent on bats for pollination, such as mangoes, bananas, and guavas (Celebrating Wildlife 2006). Bat pollination is an integral process in tropical communities with 500 tropical plant species completely, or partially, dependent on bats for pollination (Heithaus 1974). Also, it has been noted that outcrossing (introducing unrelated genetic material into a breeding line) by bats increases genetic diversity and is important in tropical communities (Heithaus 1974).

Plants pollinated by bats often have white or pale nocturnal flowers that are large and bell shaped. Many of these flowers have large amounts of nectar, and emit a smell that attracts bats, such as a strong fruity or musky odor (Gibson 2001). Bats use certain chemical cues to locate food sources. They are attracted to odors that contain esters, alcohols, aldehydes, and aliphatic acids (Gibson 2001)."

This article Facts About Bats:Central Texas is Full of Them gives more information on what they eat. From that we extracted this:

"It’s easy to attract bats into your garden. Lights, flowering plants and trees, as well as a clean water source are often enough to encourage the critters into your backyard. Night bloomers like Evening Primrose, Night Jessamine, and Moonflower are superior for attracting bats. If you want bats in your garden, however, be sure not to use pesticide. As with any animal, poison doesn’t mix with a flourishing ecosystem." The only plants we found native to Texas that fall into that list are:

Calylophus serrulatus (Yellow sundrops)

Oenothera caespitosa (Tufted evening primrose)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Ipomoea alba (Tropical white morning glory)

Bats are pollinators by accident. They pursue night-flying insects down into the pollen area of a flower and, in the process, get pollen on their bodies and then transfer that pollen to another flower as they pursue their next bug snack.

When we get into plants for hummingbirds, that is a little easier. On our Recommended Species page, we have a list of hummingbird plants for Central Texas. Hummingbirds are not nocturnal, like bats, and while they do eat some insects to provide protein for their infants, they are primarily nectar consumers. From hummingbird.net, we found this article on Attracting Hummingbirds. They also have a list of plants, but remember that some on that list may not be natives to Texas or even North America, but since you have your Texas hummingbird plant list, you should be okay. We went through that list and determined which were found growing in and around Denton County.

Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean)

Hesperaloe parviflora (Red yucca)

Ipomopsis rubra (Standing cypress)

Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap)

Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm)

Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox)

Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage)


From the Image Gallery

Erythrina herbacea

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Standing cypress
Ipomopsis rubra

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Annual phlox
Phlox drummondii

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Tufted evening primrose
Oenothera caespitosa

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Tropical white morning-glory
Ipomoea alba

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Trimming iris leaves in Pickerington OH
June 08, 2010 - I recently trimmed the stems and leaves of my iris plants in late May - I realize now this was a bit early. The leaves are still about 3-4" out of the ground. I would like to half them and move som...
view the full question and answer

Source for silver ponyfoot from Temple TX
March 19, 2013 - Where can I purchase dichondra argentea -- I live in Bell Co. but am willing to come to Austin if need be. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Mystic Spires salvia in transplant shock
July 04, 2008 - Hello. I live in Taylor, Tx. Just outside Austin, Texas. I recently planted mystic spires. One gallons and will receive the hot afternoon sun. All the research says they can tolerate this location. Th...
view the full question and answer

When do you put out bluebonnet seeds in Bastrop, TX?
April 17, 2012 - When do you put out bluebonnet seeds?? I hear fall but don't the seeds pop out of dried up plants in early summer?
view the full question and answer

Low cost landscaping in Federicksburg VA
February 22, 2009 - Hello, I live in Fredericksburg Va and I rent a townhome with a small yard. My back yard is almost completely mud and my front yard has a hideous square shrub. So my question is do you have any plant ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center