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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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Saturday - September 26, 2009

From: Beaumont, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native Empress trees in Beaumont TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to grow some Empress Trees in our yard. We have a huge yard and it is right on the corner of a cross street where they have just put a traffic light. People stopped at the light can see into our house. I understand they are invasive, without really knowing what that means. Please explain. I tried to find the information on the Texas Park and Wildlife website. I do not even know who to find out the information from.

ANSWER:

Paulownia tomentosa has several common names, including Empress Tree, Princess Tree and "Oh, no, not that." Please read this Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted site on the reasons why this tree is totally inappropriate for planting anywhere in North America. You didn't find it on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website because it is so invasive, and can damage ecologies in many ways. And you won't find it on our website, either. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. Introduced to the United States in 1840 as an ornamental plant, it is native to western and central China.

If you want more information on why NOT to grow this plant, go to this USDA National Invasive Species Information Center. There are a number more links on that site; you will soon learn that nobody, including people who unknowlingly planted it or unwillingly had it invade their property, likes this plant except the industry trying to sell it. You and anyone else not knowing what an invasive plant is should read this About.com: Landscaping Invasive Plants.

 

 

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