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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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Tuesday - February 05, 2008

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Seeds for invasive, non-native Erodium cicutarium
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I rec'd the following e-mail from a friend in he Chicago area. I looked for about an hour and couldn't find a place to get weed seeds. She thinks we are in the desert here and apparently are so rural we just walk outside and pick what we want. Any clues as to where to get these seeds? any supplier of weed seeds around? Thanks. Hi, Deanna! Someone just asked us where she could get some filaree seeds. This web site (http://www.desertusa.com/may96/du_fila.html) gives good photos and info -- do you have any of that stuff around your area? Could you maybe collect some seeds for us? Thanks!

ANSWER:

We did indeed go to the website DESERTUSA recommended by your friend and, frankly, we don't know where to start. We searched on the web by the Latin name, Erodium cicutarium, and found a number of webpages, most of which were under the title of things like "weeds", "noxious weeds", "invasive plants" or "Integrated Pest Management." Then, we discovered that, while there are native Erodiums, members of the Geranium family, this is a non-native, native to Eurasia, and imported to the New World by early Spanish settlers. The focus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the care and propagation of plants native to North America, but a very large part of our work also has to do with the control or elimination of invasive plants, whether native or non-native. In point of fact, we don't want to do anything to encourage the propagation of this plant anywhere in the United States.

Filaree is an attractive plant, with its little five-petalled flowers. Perhaps we could suggest some other member of the Geraniaceae Family that are native to North America, not considered invasive and could grow in a garden in Illinois. The first, Erodium texanum (Texas stork's bill), has information on our webpage saying it is only native to parts of the Southwest. However, the USDA Plant Profiles Map shows it distributed as close to Illinois as Missouri, so it's a possibility. Geranium maculatum (spotted geranium) and Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium) are both indicated as distributed in Illinois. Now, whether you could get seeds of any of these plants, especially as they are considered weeds, is another question. The Illinois Native Plant Society, on their website, has a link to "Seeds and Nurseries." They also have a lot of material on invasive plants, so you might not have much luck there, either.

Conclusion: We'd really rather you didn't gather any seeds of the Erodium cicutarium, even if you find them.


Erodium texanum

Geranium maculatum

Geranium carolinianum

 

 

 

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