En Español

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

Native plants for seasonal poor drainage
May 16, 2006 - I have an area in my front yard that has a drainage ditch running through it. When it rains, that area stays very wet. What kind of plants available for sale will work in this situation?
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

Plants for a pond bank in NE Pennsylvania
January 13, 2011 - I had a 3/4 acre pond built this fall in Northeastern Pennsylvania (Susquehanna county; zone 4). The pond banks are packed, hard rocky clay. What plants can I plant in the 3 foot bank between pond ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pavilion over fountain in Washington State
December 26, 2008 - I have a tall fountain in a 7 foot square which is surrounded by pavers. Inside the 7' square there is about a 2' mulched soil bed around the center fountain and an iron type pavilion that goes up h...
view the full question and answer

Wetland Plants for Michigan
March 20, 2010 - I have an area on my wooded property with a wetland marsh area that often puddles with water along the perimeter in the spring. It is very shaded and wet but I wanted to camouflage the perimeter of t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center