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
3 ratings

Monday - December 10, 2007

From: Oceanside, CA
Region: California
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Effect of herbicides on frogs
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

I live in a planned development adjacent to a natural waterway that contains native and non native plants. It also is an amphibian habitat with many frogs. The landscape manager has sprayed the area with Monsanto's Rodeo (also sold as Aqua Master)to remove the undesirable plants. To the Rodeo he has added a surfactant, Pro-Spreader. I know that Rodeo is approved for use on waterways, but I am also concerned that the surfactant added is killing the native frogs. Do you have also any information on this? Also, the landscape manager claims that Rodeo is "selective" killing the plants we don't want and not harming others. Is it true that a herbicide would kill some plants and not others? Thank you for you help.

ANSWER:

To answer your last question first: Yes, there is such a thing as a "selective" herbicide, but Rodeo is not selective. It kills all plants including brush, grasses, herbaceous broad leaves, etc. It is only selective to the extent you spray it on the plants you want to get rid of and not the ones you want to keep. From this Aqua Master website, you can learn more about Rodeo's use to control aquatic plants.

Now let's get to those frogs and surfactants. The scarcity and sometimes total disappearance of many species of amphibians has been concerning specialists in that field for many years. Frogs "breathe" largely through their skins. Because the oxygen is dissolved in an aqueous film on the skin and passes from there to the blood, the skin must remain moist at all times; this makes frogs susceptible to many toxins in the environment.

Nonionic surfactants are added to herbicides so that the herbicide will adhere to the leaf surface and penetrate into the leaf's tissue. Given the sensitive nature of amphibian skin and the function of surfactants, it is not surprising that they could be a problem for amphibians. In fact, there is a growing body of scientific evidence linking nonionic surfactants with endocrine disruption in amphibians. Time prevents Mr. SP from going into great detail about endocrine disruptors in amphibians. Suffice it to say...it is not a good thing. If you google "nonionic surfactants amphibians", you will see what I mean.

 

More Water Gardens Questions

Poor drainage in clay soils in Langhorne PA
September 15, 2009 - Our backyard has very poor drainage, to the point of up to 3 inches of rain can sit until it is evaporated. Talking to neighbors, they informed us that there use to be a terrain that ran through our ...
view the full question and answer

Flowers for a pond area that will not hold water
January 07, 2009 - We are in area code 77437 in the Coastal Plains of Texas. We have a 1 acre pond that will not hold water (dug to deep into the clay)and we would like to fill this pond with flowers (maybe wildflowers...
view the full question and answer

Need water absorbing plants in Syracuse, NY
August 18, 2010 - I'm Looking for water absorbing plants and shrubs -not so much trees. My rain barrels and downspouts are still creating too much run off. I want to line a walkway and keep rainwater run-off from drai...
view the full question and answer

Tropical Texas landscape from Houston
March 04, 2013 - Do you know of any public (or at least photographed) place in Texas that has been landscaped entirely with native "tropical-looking" (i.e. evergreen but NOT conifer and NOT succulent/arid) species? ...
view the full question and answer

Specifying sizes of plants for pond edge plantings in Austin area
December 19, 2014 - I am working on a list of pond edge plantings for the Austin area that will be in the fluctuation zone and I have my list of my plants but I need to know how to spec the sizes and to make sure my list...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center