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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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Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses to replace mondo grass in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello - I live in the Southern California coastal zone, and am looking for a drought resistant, turf alternative. My husband wants to use "Mondo Grass", but I know that is not native to the region, and I'm trying to convince him to use a native alternative. Can you recommend a native alternative that would be similar to mondo grass in appearance/effect?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is happy to hear that you are replacing your Asian native, mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), with a North American native. Although they do tend to be taller, here are four natives that are attractive and have a somewhat similar look to mondo grass:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Sedges are another possibility and they look even more like mondo grass than the native grasses above (see the article, Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape).  Additionally, most sedges are evergreen and tend to be shorter than the grasses.  Both Carex pansa (California meadow sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge) will work well in the Los Angeles area.  You can check our National Suppliers Directory for nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Los Angeles area.  It is possible that they may carry other native Carex sp. as well.


Achnatherum hymenoides

Koeleria macrantha

Melica imperfecta

Sporobolus airoides

Carex texensis

 

 

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