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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 - April 15, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Evergreen grasslike plants for Austin TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I'm in Austin, TX and looking for some evergreen grass-looking plants. Would you explain the similarities/differences between Butterfly Iris and Lily Grass in this regard? Thank you

ANSWER:

First, let me tell you what the major similarity is—neither plant is native to North America. Butterfly, or African Iris (Dietes sp.) is native to Africa and Lily grass, or weeping Anthericum (Anthericum saundersiae) is native to southern Europe and Turkey. Here is one difference (besides the obvious difference in appearance)—Butterfly iris is a member of the Family Iridaceae (Iris Family) and Lily grass is a member of the Family Liliaceae (Lily Family). Now, since our focus and expertise here at the Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America, we can't really be much more help than that with these two. However, we can suggest, as substitutes for them, some evergreen grasslike plants that are native to Texas. Since they are native, they are adapted to our climate, require less water and do well in our rocky clay soils.

There are several sedges that are evergreen:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Other possibilities that are larger, evergreen and grasslike are:

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca)


Carex blanda

Carex cherokeensis

Carex planostachys

Carex texensis

Nolina texana

Hesperaloe parviflora

 

 

 

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