En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - June 27, 2008

From: Valdosta, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Native vs. invasive photosynthesis and CO2 exchange.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

My group is conducting an experiment on invasive and native plants in Valdosta, Georgia. Are invasive plant species better adapted to live in Valdosta than native plant species? How do invasive species react to hypertonic carbon dioxide levels in their environment as opposed to native plant species? Is there any experiment recommendation you can suggest for us to work on? In other words, we would like to compare the photosynthesis rates of the 2 plants species to see which is better adapted.

ANSWER:

Your questions, while interesting, are too general to be plainly answered.  Native plant species are always well-adapted to the ecological niche in which they naturally evolved and grow.  Valdosta, being a medium-sized city, has many, many ecological niches -  both natural and man-made - which may or may not be well-suited for one native plant species or for a specific invasive species.  

Perhaps an example will help.  You are likely to find healthy populations of the native species, Cyperus retrorsus in the pine woodlands around Valdosta, but are very unlikely to find it on disturbed sites along roadways, streets and in residential gardens in the area.  On the other hand, the invasive weed, Cyperus rotundus is likely to appear in any disturbed soils locally, but is very unlikely to appear in well-established pine forests and will not compete well with C. retrorsus if it does.

How any plant reacts to carbon dioxide levels, hypertonic or otherwise, depends on many factors, but strictly speaking, the species' nativity is not among those factors.  Soil constituents and conditions, water and nutrient availability, sun conditions, neighboring and competing plants, plant health and the individual plant species' genetics will all play a role in that plant's reaction to the levels of CO2 and other atmospheric gas fractions.

You will probably want to give more thought to the design of your experiment before proceeding.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Smarty Plants on Invasive Plants
March 26, 2004 - How many plants are invasive?
view the full question and answer

Control methods for Cenchrus spinifex, Coastal sandbur
September 22, 2006 - I have some of the nicest, thickest, greenest grassburs in the county of Erath. What is the best and quickest way to get rid of them? I have heard of a product called cornmeal gluten. Any info appreci...
view the full question and answer

My plants are choking.
September 01, 2008 - I have a trailing weed that is choking the other plants in my garden. It grows super fast and it has small white flowers. The flower looks a bit like a mini morning glory. I have tried pulling it as m...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under pine trees in Colorado Springs CO
April 23, 2011 - What can I plant under pine trees in Colorado that will grow every year? Would like ground cover; tried bishop weed.
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive creeping fig in Webster TX
May 26, 2013 - We've recently moved into a new home in the southeast Houston area. The back of our property has a long concrete wall (gets quite a bit of sun), which we thought we could cover with a spreading vine....
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center