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 Cacti and Succulents Questions

Landscaping on South Padre Island
June 07, 2008 - I'm in charge of landscaping at my beachfront condo in South Padre Island and find the wind, salt air, and heat challenging for growing almost anything. We would like to incorporate native plants, b...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting agave in Austin
September 22, 2009 - I have an 8 foot tall agave (americana?) planted in my front yard. It has been there quite happily for over 20 years. How would I go about transplanting this to another location? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Black fungus on cholla cactus from Austin
March 25, 2012 - How to get rid of black fungus on cholla cactus? Cut it off? And treat with what?
view the full question and answer

Non-native jade plants and spider plants beneath Mayberry tree in Bay Point CA
October 15, 2013 - I have a fruitless Mayberry in my back yard that's about 50/50' can I plant jade and spider plants under it? The tree is very healthy.
view the full question and answer

Plants for planting in gourds
March 15, 2009 - I enjoy painting dried gourds. This spring I got the idea to paint a gourd and cut holes in the side and plant some small blooming flowers. I have seen "hen and chickens" growing out of holes in the...
view the full question and answer

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