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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 10, 2008

From: Cape Coral, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Shrubs
Title: Identification of lantanas safe for use in Florida
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Why do you list lantana camara as a native to the U.S. and as a native plant in Florida? It is a category one invasive exotic on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's list of invasive exotics. Lantana depressa and lantana involucrata are Florida natives and safe to use.

ANSWER:

Well, see, just because something is native doesn't mean it can't get invasive. On our Native Plant Database Lantana camara (lantana) is listed as "Native Distribution" from Georgia to Texas, which makes it a native of North America. Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena) is also native to Texas. Both of these are listed as "Distributed to:" Florida, among other states. Because it is a sub-tropical plant, it obviously would love Florida and become invasive. No doubt, it is purchased there because it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and then escapes cultivation. We also took a look at this Floridata site on Lantana camara, which agrees with what you say about the problem lantanas are causing in Florida, and that it is even escaping cultivation and invading natural areas in Texas. Also on our database, we found Lantana involucrata (buttonsage) which the webpage noted is a PlantWise native alternative for Lantana camara (lantana).

We did not find Lantana depressa on our Native Plants website, so we went to Google, and found this article by Roger L. Hammer from a magazine of the Florida Native Plant Society, titled "The Lantana Mess". The author makes a very valuable point-that there are just too many lantanas around, too much hybridization, too much migrating into previously untouched areas to be certain that any cultivar or species of an invasive plant is going to be "safe." When we are asked to recommend plants for butterfly gardens or color or tolerance of heat or drought, the lantanas always seem to come up. You might be interested in this recent previous answer on Mr. Smarty Plants, in which we were given a list of plants and asked to identify those which were native to Texas (and, thus, or course, also native to North America). This became incredibly complicated, not only with lantana, but with many of the other cultivars and trade names for plants. Often, one site will say a plant is native and another say it is not. The commercial trade will use "native" as an adjective about a plant when, in fact, it is a hybrid. When plants are hybridized, whether naturally or through human intervention, we don't have a lot of control over which properties are going to emerge in the new plant.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care and propagation of plants native to North America, but it is also committed to the identification of invasive plants, native or not, and attempts to educate the public in ways to control and curb those plants, or avoid cultivating them in the first place.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Controlling scale insects on hollies
July 10, 2005 - I have a number of holly shrubs at the side of my house. Recently I noticed that they have tiny white spots on them. I looked at several native Texas gardening books, but can't find what I need to t...
view the full question and answer

Dogwood under a black walnut in Mt.Pleasant MI
August 01, 2010 - Can I grow red or yellow twigged dogwood near a black walnut?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for hedge in Porter, Texas
December 24, 2010 - We are trying to decide on what would be good privacy hedges (at least 6 ft. tall) to run down our long backyard chainlink fences. I'm allergic to Ligustrums and we have 2 dogs and a cat which I hear...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
August 27, 2009 - Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
view the full question and answer

Pruning and deadheading rosa rugosa while blooming
August 01, 2008 - Can you prune the dead flowers and branches of rosa rogosa while it is still blooming?
view the full question and answer

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