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
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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Should Rock Harlequin stay green all winter?
May 28, 2014 - I have a rock harlequin that came up in a area that had been disturbed. It came up last summer/fall and the foliage survived our tough winter. I can not find anything about this plant staying green al...
view the full question and answer

Copper beech
May 12, 2005 - Hi, I work for a youth camp in southeastern Pennsylvania. The property for the camp was purchased from a farmer in 1958. The farmer was a collecter of unusual trees and one of the trees on our prop...
view the full question and answer

Correct spelling of Passiflora caerulea
August 07, 2007 - What is correct, passiflora coerulea or caerulea ?
view the full question and answer

The Designation of Annual and Perennial Plants
July 25, 2014 - Sometimes when researching a plant I will find it listed as both annual and perennial. I understand that some plants will be perennial in a warm climate and die in a colder zone, but it is still a per...
view the full question and answer

Plants killed by frost
October 31, 2007 - In a frost why do flowers etc. die where grass will not die?
view the full question and answer

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