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
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

Native plants that will grow under alleopathic black walnut
March 03, 2007 - I have a large, beautiful black walnut tree in my yard and have trouble growing the annuals, begonia, impatients, etc., that I have always grown. They don't do well in the ground and I have resorted...
view the full question and answer

Gardening advice for Ontario, Canada
April 20, 2011 - HI there. I see most of the readers are in CA, I am in Ontario Canada. I am in need of some advice on a nice flowering all year round garden for both sun/partial sun/shade garden. Some for direct sun ...
view the full question and answer

Mixture of native grasses as opposed to buffalo grass monoculture
November 26, 2003 - My husband and I just built our home on Lake Travis. Our lot is very rocky and is on the side of a hill. We would like to plant something on the incline at the front of our home that doesn't need a l...
view the full question and answer

Help! The deer are eating my landscape.
March 14, 2004 - Help! The deer are eating my landscape. Is there anything I can plant that they won’t eat?
view the full question and answer

Is there a flower that blooms only once in seven years?
December 17, 2008 - Just wanted to know if there exists a flower that blooms only once in seven years? Thank you!
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