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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 - October 10, 2007

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Identification of plant, possibly Justicia pilosella, for groundcover
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm newly relocated to Texas and find I have a yard with three major types of green growing. Close to the house (and mostly shaded) is St. Augustine. Furthest out front, (unshaded) is the Bermudagrass & Buffalograss, but in the middle, (mixed levels of shade) I have an apparently wild ground cover. Part of it, I believe, is horse herb, with tiny yellow flowers. But growing with it is a similar leafed, but lavender colored flower ground cover. The flower is asymmetrical with three petals on one side and one apposing petal, with a small white and purple center. 1) Can you tell me what this second plant is? 2) Are both/either of these plants worth trying to maintain as a ground cover instead of planting other grasses? I have an acre of yard, and prefer minimum maintenace and watering. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Your plant with the lavender flowers sounds like Justicia pilosella (Gregg's tubetongue). Another possibility is Dyschoriste linearis (snake herb). Both of these, plus Calyptocarpus vialis (horse herb), should make fine groundcovers as long as there isn't heavy traffic over them.

 


Justicia pilosella

Dyschoriste linearis

Calyptocarpus vialis

 

 

 

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