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

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

Dietes bicolor invasive from Brisbane Australia
April 01, 2013 - We have dietes bicolor growing in our garden. I am changing the type of garden and cannot seem to kill it. I've dugged it out, spent too many weekends pulling out every new shoot, used poison, but t...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pistacio problem Rockwall, TX.
July 02, 2014 - I have an eight year old Pistacio tree that has leaves turning brown and falling off. It is June! Why?
view the full question and answer

Will frozen non-native agapanthus come back from freeze in Austin?
February 06, 2011 - I don't know if its a native plant, but my agapanthus got frozen in our recent cold weather. Will they come back; should I trim off the tops?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Philadelphus Innocence mock orange from Paris TX
June 20, 2012 - What is the best place in the garden to grow Philadelphus Innocence mock orange in Paris, Tx? Also, how long after transplanting do flowers occur? Any tips appreciated
view the full question and answer

New plant introductions in Georgia.
October 15, 2009 - Can you list 5-10 brand new plants to the marketplace this 2009-2010 season for my area in GA? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

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