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

Monday - September 14, 2009

From: Thibodaux , LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Plants beneath native bald cypress trees in Thibodaux LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a bed that needs to be revamped and it has two beautiful 18 year old Bald cypress trees. I would like to work the soil and plant some appropriate shade tolerant plants. How do I work the soil with the roots and knees, without hurting the trees?

ANSWER:

To be perfectly honest with you, we wouldn't. The "knees" develop mostly in poorly drained situations, since the tree is adapted to being an aquatic plant. The knees are useful in an exchange of gases and take in oxygen in a low-oxygen environment. This tree can live to be BIG and OLD, and like the gorilla in the house, needs to be able to put its roots anywhere it wants to. In an area like Lafourche Parish, where you are in Louisiana, two very important functions of the roots on a Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) are that the tree is not susceptible to suffocation, so it can withstand flooding, and also for support. This tree is rarely blown over, even in hurricanes. We would recommend mulching the bed where the bald cypresses are, and going farther out to plant grasses or garden plants. Besides being very utilitarian, we think the knees on the trees are an interesting feature of a wonderful tree. 


Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

 

 

More Trees Questions

Identification of bush with red berries
March 11, 2013 - bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil?
view the full question and answer

Native range of Osage orange tree
July 02, 2012 - I found a "bois d'arc" or Osage Orange Tree in a San Antonio park. Is this very unusual? I thought they were mainly in East Tx as I had never seen one here before.
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Flower Mound TX
June 23, 2009 - I have a large native tree in the back yard, leaves resembles a live oak, but evergreen,& small white flowers in the spring, very tall vase shaped tree. It had no acorns or berries.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a school garden in College Station TX
July 20, 2011 - I need to plant some things in my school garden. Green plants and plants with some color. Hardly ever rains here. Please give suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Tree well for partially exposed roots from Lake Kiowa TX
May 05, 2012 - Medium oak tree along lake has partially exposed roots. Can we make a barrier (what kind?) and fill the roots behind it with topsoil, compost, etc.? Tree and roots are above the waterline. Lake occ...
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