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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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Wednesday - August 15, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native invasive creeping fig on oak tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a creeping fig in a pot that sits next to an oak tree. It took to the tree as a trellis and looks beautiful. My question is: is it doing the tree any harm?

ANSWER:

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila), is an Asian native, and although not listed as an invasive plant, it can be very agressive. Once it has attached itself to a surface it is very difficult to remove. If it continues to spread up your oak and reaches the branches with leaves, it could be a serious competitor for sunlight and be a real threat to the health of your oak. Mr. SP recommends you remove it from the oak and train it to trail on the ground (or build a trellis for it). If you train it to trail on the ground, you will need to watch it and trim it to keep it from growing into areas where it isn't welcome.
 

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