Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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!

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

Deterring geese from a wildflower garden
February 28, 2015 - I've moved into a home with a large pond beyond the grass yard. I intend to plant a sunflower house with lots of other plants as part of the structure, such as flowering vines, clover, mint and thyme...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a pond bank in Gladwin MI
September 13, 2009 - Our acre-size pond bank is sloped and high maintenance--needs mowed. We have lots of deer. We would like to plant a low-lying ground cover to eliminate mowing the bank--any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
June 05, 2010 - We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a pond edge in IN
June 08, 2012 - Hello, I live in Southern Indiana. I care very much about reinforcing native plants for my region & not planting anything invasive. I had a pond built last year & need some suggestions for native ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation information from Queens NY
October 04, 2012 - Hello. I would appreciate information on when to plant the following plants. I found on the USDA website that all these plants could withstand the cold. ALthough they can withstand harsh weather, ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.