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
2 ratings

Monday - June 25, 2012

From: Cambridge , ON
Region: Canada
Topic: General Botany
Title: Leaf motion in still air in ON
Answered by: Anne Bossart


What causes a tree or plant to dance when the other plants around it are still and no wind???


Seeing a plant or tree "do" that is one of the things that brings back a childhood "sense of wonder" and a reminder of the almost magical mysteries of nature, doesn't it?  Hearing the rustle of poplar leaves on a day when there seems to be no breeze whatsoever is one of my favourite examples.

Although the air seems still, it isn't actually.  There are many factors like differential heating and cooling and structures that cause the air currents to eddy and vary in speed in different locations that are in close proximity.  Once the air catches the plant it can set it into a state of motion that is similar to a standing wave which will linger after the gust of air has subsided.

Of course that is just one explanation and a dry, scientific one at that.  Personally, I like to savour the more magical side of nature (and summer) whenever I have the chance.


More General Botany Questions

Comments on article in Austin paper
January 22, 2012 - Why can't we comment on your piece in the Statesman? It says no comments possible at the bottom.
view the full question and answer

Fragrant Texas wildflowers from Waco TX
July 28, 2013 - Hi, I'm interested in looking at any Texas Wildflowers which have attractive aromas which I can distill essential oil from. Any ideas? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Pure white primroses (Oenothera speciosa)
May 13, 2008 - Hello MS. Smarty Plants! I have wildflowers instead of grass in my backyard (mow once a year and it's spectacularly beautiful) and I noticed some pure white primroses (the rest are all pink or wi...
view the full question and answer

Carolina wolfberry blooms but doesn't produce fruit
May 10, 2012 - I have had my carolina wolfberry for 2 years now ( I got it at the Wildflower center), it seems to be doing well, creeping all over the flower bed with some branches on the ground up to 6 ft long. It ...
view the full question and answer

Can I grow wild rice in green house conditions?
November 17, 2010 - Can I grow Zizania aquatica (wild rice) in green house conditions?
view the full question and answer

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