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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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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!

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Saturday - April 14, 2007

From: brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do bluebonnets, being a legume, contribute anything beneficial to the soil?

ANSWER:

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), like most of the members of the pea family (Family Fabaceae), fixes nitrogen, i.e., transforms atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by the plants for growth. They don't do this alone, however. Nitrogen fixation happens when the plants form a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria called rhizobia. Not only is this beneficial to the bluebonnet (or other nitrogen-fixing plant) but it also benefits non-nitrogen-fixing plants. When the bluebonnet plant dies, its decomposition products, including nitrogen, are released into the soil to be taken up by other plants.

You can read "How to Grow Blubonnets" on our How to Articles page to learn more about bluebonnets and their symbiotic bacterial partners.

 

 

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