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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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Friday - November 13, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Spriranthes sp. blooming on rocky hilltop
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am not sure if my previous question went thru, so I am submitting it again. How unusual is it to find a few blooming specimens of Spiranthes sp. on a rocky hilltop west of Loop 360 near Bee Caves Rd. west of Austin?

ANSWER:

As long as there is a source of moisture there, it is not too unusual.  They are often associated with places with plenty of moisture but they also appear in drier, rockier areas.  This is the time that they bloom (October and November) and they probably "welcomed" the abundant rain that we just had to get them off to a fine start.  If there was a "vanilla-like" scent associated with the plants you saw, then they were probably Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great plains lady's-tresses).  Here is more information from Minnesota Wildflowers, the North American Orchid Conservation Center and the Arkansas Native Plant Society.

 

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