En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - October 16, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Best of Smarty, Non-Natives
Title: Is common yarrow a Texas native?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is common yarrow Achillea millefolium a Texas native? Please enlighten me.

ANSWER:

The answer to your question is yes ... and possibly, no.  Confused?  You're not alone.  The question of the nativity of Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) is a toughie.  The crux of the problem is how yarrow is classified taxonomically.  If you don't recognize any botanical varieties within the species then the answer is simple; yes, it's native to Texas as well as nearly all of North America, Europe, most of Asia, the Indian sub-continent, and even part of Mesoamerica.  In other words, it's a cosmopolitan species.

However, some taxonomic authorities recognize two or more botanical varieties.  Our authority, The USDA Plants Database (based on the Synthesis of North American Flora), recognizes 12 botanical varieties (not all native) as occuring in North America.  One botanical variety, Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis (western yarrow) was growing in Texas at the time of the arrival of the Europeans and thus is considered native to Texas.  Many garden varieties of Achillea millefolium are progeny of Old World botanical varieties and are not native to Texas or North America.

There are good arguments to be made for recognizing no varieties (lumping) and also for recognizing botanical varieties (splitting).  Because, by policy, we follow the lead of our taxonomic authority the decision is made for us.  In this case we recognize one botanical variety of common yarrow as a Texas native.

 

More Best of Smarty Questions

Disappearing sunlight in Phoenix, AZ
September 29, 2009 - I live in a condo in Phoenix, AZ with a north facing patio that goes out about 10 feet and is 20 feet wide. During the summer months there is a span of 1 foot in the front that goes the 20 foot length...
view the full question and answer

Plants that might absorb moisture from air
February 27, 2007 - I am searching for a plant that will reduce the relative humidity of a building. I work for a manufacturing company that is experiencing problems with water condensing on ceilings and equipment due t...
view the full question and answer

Bees knees squeezing
May 28, 2010 - Barbara, Do the knees of bees help them squeeze if they please their wobbly, bobbly, knobbly balls of pollen?
view the full question and answer

Learning to garden from Hartford CT
May 04, 2014 - Hello, I just recently found an interest in gardening, and have discovered "cultivars." I am having trouble finding what exactly a cultivar is, and if they are bad or not. Can culltivars ever occur ...
view the full question and answer

Can tulip tree sap be used to make syrup in Bunker Hill IN?
July 10, 2009 - I was just wondering if tulip tree sap could be used to make syrup. I saw the sticky stuff on the leaves and decided to taste test it and it was very sweet, unfortunately I later found out that I was ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center