En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - November 06, 2007

From: Pullman, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: Native plant lists for eastern Washington and trace element absorption by plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm a graduate student at Washington State University in Pullman. I'm currently working out a method (in my head) of utilizing neutron activation analysis of prehistoric animal bone to figure out how far prehistoric people (in particular the Northwest) were venturing to obtain meat. I'm a relative newbie (all of the past two weeks) to academic plant lit. I am having difficulty with two key points. 1)Where can I go to find a list of native plants of the Northwest (Eastern Washington to be precise) and 2) How adept are they at absorbing various trace elements from the soil? Any help you could give me would be GREATLY appreciated!

ANSWER:

The first part of your question is relatively easy to answer. You can find a list of native plants of Washington by doing a "Combination Search" in our Native Plant Database. You can find lists of native plants in the different counties of Washington on the Washington Native Plant Society website. You can also obtain lists of native plants in each of the counties of Washington by choosing "Advanced Search" on the USDA Plants Database
webpage.

There are a large number of characteristics you can choose to display in the lists from the USDA Plants Database. Unfortunately, these characteristics don't include "ability to absorb trace elements". Indeed, the ability of plants to absorb trace elements depends on many factors. As stated by K. M. Bali and J. N. Guerrero in Land Applications of Biosolids in the Imperial Valley (1996. Universtiy of California Cooperative Extension):

"The uptake of heavy metals and trace elements by plants depends on the concentration of theses (sic) elements in soil as well as on complex sets of other factors related to soil geochemistry.... The most important soil factors that influence plant uptake of elements are pH, clay content, soil texture, root depth, organic matter content and the presence of competitive ions (such as S for Se uptake). In addition, plant species vary in their ability to accumulate and tolerate trace elements and heavy metals."

So, I'm afraid we can't really answer that part of your question. Your best bet, I would think, is to search for relevant data on absorption of specific trace elements by a particular species of plant.

 

More Plant Lists Questions

Plants for flowerbed beside pool in Sacramento, CA
August 27, 2012 - 70 foot long 2 ft flower bed running along north side of pool. Gets morning and afternoon sun with late shade on west end and hot sun on east end as sun sets. Need something to help with shooting se...
view the full question and answer

Water-wise plants for clay soil in southern California
September 26, 2013 - My yard is clay. I'm removing turf to put in water-wise plants and bushes. I need some low growing bushes and medium height bushes that will grow in clay and that will stay green in the summer. Hopef...
view the full question and answer

Native Backyard for Lakewood OH
December 24, 2013 - I would like to do away with the lawn in my backyard in favor of native plants that would require minimal maintenance, including flowering plants that would encourage pollinators.
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for hillside in Northern California
November 19, 2012 - I have read numerous posts on here, but I have not found my exact situation. I live in Northern California. I am looking for some type of ground cover to grow on a hillside. Directly above the hillsid...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center