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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - October 04, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Shrubs
Title: Mechanism for Cenizo bush blooming before rain
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Why does cenizo (aka barometer bush) bloom before it rains?

ANSWER:

There are plenty of references to Cenizo/Barometer Bush/Texas Sage/Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens) blooming in response to rain and/or high humidty; however, I have not been able to find any information about the mechanism for this response. Texas A&M's Plant Answers is also clueless about why this happens. It seems logical to think that if rain provides water for the root system to take up, the plant would respond by blooming. The mechanism for triggering the plant to bloom simply from high humidty is a little harder to imagine, but perhaps the leaf stomata are able to take in enough moisture to also elicit the flowering response.

 

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