Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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

Monday - July 23, 2007

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Identification of
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm trying to identify a plant and I'm having trouble doing so. The plant was called moss by my mother,but it looks like a succulent. It grows on the ground and looks like small vines with pink stems,plump green leaves,and little yellow flowers in the spring. Also, if the parts are torn or cut off they will grow if replanted better than any plant I have ever seen. What is this?

ANSWER:

If it had not been for a sweet mother-in-law who always had "moss" blooming in two big pots by her porch in East Texas, I would have been mystified as you. They certainly didn't look like any moss I had ever seen, especially with the bright, multicolored flowers. I later learned it was frequently called "moss rose" and then that it was actually a portulaca. The plant your mother called "moss", with its yellow flowers, is probably Portulaca oleracea, also referred to as common purslane or little hogweed. It grows virtually worldwide in warm and temperate climates, and is usually considered a weed. It has long been used in North America as a potherb and medicinal plant, probably since before the arrival of the first Europeans.

The plant my mother-in-law grew was, I believe, Portulaca grandiflora. This is the cultivated species more often referred to as a "moss rose." Unlike Portulaca oleracea, Portulaca grandiflora is not a native, but is the one most seen in cultivation. It blooms only when the sun is shining, in many bright colors.

If this still doesn't appear to be the flower you are trying to identify, please follow the directions to send us a picture on the first page of "Ask Mr. Smarty Plants."

 

From the Image Gallery



More Plant Identification Questions

Plant ID in Springfield OR
July 08, 2009 - I recently discovered a wildflower closely resembling the Oregon Lady Slipper, apparently a wild orchid, but with many blooms on a single long stem and with no apparent leaves. I'd like more informat...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a vine with purple flowers
July 06, 2011 - I'm trying to identify a vine-like plant growing in my yard to determine if it is a weed or should be kept around. It has small purple flowers with a small yellow center, looking like a mini honeysuc...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Villa Hills KY
April 21, 2013 - Hello I have this plant but I don't know what it is. I want to know if it's edible or what it is. I think it's catnip.
view the full question and answer

Which one is huajillo and which one is guajillo?
November 19, 2013 - Recently I attended a field trip to the Leonard Garden at the Kleberg Institute in Kingsville. I took a picture of a tree that was referred to as Tenaza or huajillo. Later I took another photo of a ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower in southeastern Pennsylvania
May 20, 2008 - I live in southeastern Pennsylvania and want to identify a wild flower that is common along small town and rural roads and highways. It is blooming now (Mid May), has a flower spike similar to a larks...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.