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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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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!

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Sunday - February 10, 2008

From: Newark, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: How to eradicate chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

How do I get rid of a invasive ground covering plant called Camelion without hurting the ground so I can plant something else?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you must be talking about Houttuynia cordata (chameleon plant), a native of Asia that has been introduced as an ornamental. Although it doesn't appear on the USDA's Invasive Species database yet, it does appear on the Global Invasive Species Database as a species to be watched because it grows and spreads so rapidly. It is also difficult to eradicate. One reason it is difficult to control is that it spreads from underground rhizomes and can root from broken stems and pieces of plants that fall to the ground. This database recommends manually removing the plants and as many of the roots and rhizomes as possible and disposing of them by incinerating them. They suggest that this will have to be repeated several times to completely get rid of the plants. In other words, you will need to be vigilant to completely eradicate this pest! This is the least harmful method to your land for eradicating this pest. Another possibility is chemical treatment although it appears that this plant is somewhat resistant to herbicides. The Wildflower Center neither condemns nor condones the use of herbicides. Sometimes they are a viable solution, but we don't make specific herbicide recommendations. If you decide to pursue a chemical solution, please be sure that you follow carefully the instructions that come with the herbicide to protect yourself and the environment. You might also check with the Delaware Cooperative Extension to see if they have dealt with eradicating this pest in your area. They do have an article, "Your Lawn's 25 Worst Weed Enemies", that discusses chemical weed control.

You can also read a previous answer to a question from someone in Texas who was having a similar problem with Houttuynia cordata.

 

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Bibliography

Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the United States (2004) Coombs, E. M. , J. K. Clark , G. L. Piper; A. F. Cofrancesco

Invasive Plants: Changing the Landscape of America (2000) Westbrooks, R. G.

Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

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