En Español

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

Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Winston-Salem, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Replacing non-native Paulonia tomentosa in North Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What could I plant in my Winston-Salem, N.C., yard in place of the paulownia tomentosa which is there now (it was NOT something I put there; I only figured out what it was a couple of years ago -- I guess it was a volunteer). I've hung a couple of bird feeders in it and no birds have come; though they do come to my nearby free-standing feeder. My husband says give them time; I think it's that they don't like the tree. What do you think? I'm not one to go cutting down trees wantonly, but I might just replace this one. ..

ANSWER:

As a non-native, the Royal Empress Tree is not in our Native Plant Database. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we concentrate on plants native to North America. However, Paulownia tomentosa is not only non-native but is considered invasive in many parts of the country. That we ARE interested in. For some background, here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer concerning this tree. There are a number of links in that previous answer to give you information on care, etc. As you can no doubt tell, we are NOT in favor of planting invasive trees.

You are probably correct that the birds don't like the tree. Wild creatures are habituated to eat and linger around vegetation they are familiar with, from eons of experience. If a non-native tree is permitted to take over, and force out native trees or other plants in your gardens, the birds will simply move away to where native plants they can survive with are still being grown.  We would be happy if you cut the tree down, but you will need to be vigilant about seedlings for a long time to come. Just keep yanking them out and don't let them get ahead of you. 

Now, for more satisfactory trees native to your area, we are going to go to our Recommended Species section, and search on trees native to North Carolina under Habit. You can use the same procedure to make your own choices. Follow the plant links to the pages on the individual plants to see what wildlife benefits they provide and, in some cases, what butterflies they attract.

Betula papyrifera (paper birch)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Fraxinus americana (white ash)

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)


Betula papyrifera

Cercis canadensis

Fraxinus americana

Quercus macrocarpa

 

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Genista racemosa from Houston
June 17, 2012 - Read your info on Genista Racemosa. Doesn't address my problem of it not blooming this year. It's in full sun and growing well, about 30" tall & round. Bloomed last year. We're feeding with ba...
view the full question and answer

Forget-me-nots choking a spring in Bethlehem PA
June 20, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am restoring a native plant area along a spring that feeds directly into our local creek. Right now the spring is becoming choked with forget-me-nots, that I am trying ...
view the full question and answer

Is India Hawthorne a deer-resistant plant?
July 03, 2011 - Is India Hawthorne a deer resistant plant in Beaufort County South Carolina?
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs to replace non-native boxwood in Parker County, TX
January 31, 2009 - I'm looking to replace some Japanese Boxwoods my wife planted years ago with some native plants, they run along the front of our house next to the foundation and porch about 60' in length. I prefer ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of non-native Selenicereus Antonyanus from Warwick RI
March 24, 2012 - I just purchased a Selenicereus Anthonyanus, Rick Rack Cactus unrooted. I have searched on the web of the proper way to root the plant and have had no luck except it says easy rooting but not how to r...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center