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
1 rating

Friday - October 16, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Why isn't Lantana camara in NPIN?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Why don't you have Lantana camara in your data base? It is very common here, and is in the USDA database.

ANSWER:

You're right; Lantana camara is very common in the Houston area and across the southern part of the US.  A listing in USDA Plants does not indicate nativity, however. Other plants, also common in your area, including Johnsongrass (Sorghum halapense), Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera)  and Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)  are all listed in the USDA Plants database.  
 
In addition to appearing in USDA Plants, all of these species have another common characteristic - they're all invasive species in Texas. While Lantana camara is not included on the list of Texas Noxious Weeds
, it is very definitely a problem weed here.  In other areas of the world, notably in Africa and Australia, Lantana camara - a native of the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and northern South America - is an ecological disaster.  Australia and affected African countries allocate vast resources in a largely losing effort to fight this species.  
 
Except in the species’ native range, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is firmly and unabashedly anti-Lantana camara.  We actively discourage gardeners and land managers from planting it, maintaining it or even allowing it to exist on their lands.
 
USDA Plants designates near the top of the web page whether or not a species is native under the heading, “Native Status:
. “L48 I” means the species is introduced in the lower 48 states of the US.
 
The NPIN database includes only species native to North America (excluding Mexico).
 
Fortunately, here in Texas we have a very fine and lovely native alternative to Lantana camara and the other non-native lantanas.  Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides)
 is native to pretty much the same areas of the US that Lantana camara has invaded and is every bit as attractive and has virtually identical growth habit.  However, it is not nearly so pernicious in other parts of the world.
 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Managing non-native invasive creeping yellow cress in Rio Medina TX
January 10, 2012 - Due to my lawn mower dying and waiting for the shop to fix it my yard got a bit overgrown. I was walking around the yard looking at the blooming wildflowers and have discovered that one of them is Ror...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on native plants
March 26, 2004 - What is a native species?
view the full question and answer

Request for native grasses from Hillsboro TX
August 04, 2012 - P.S. I forgot to mention one very important fact: my neighbor specifically asked for "native grass" recommendations. He thought he was getting a native grass recommendation.
view the full question and answer

Removal of mature agaves
November 20, 2007 - Hello- we live in Austin, TX and have a bed of different varieties of agave. They are near the walkway to our house, and are so out of control they pose a hazard to our guests walking up to the house...
view the full question and answer

Native vs. invasive photosynthesis and CO2 exchange.
June 27, 2008 - My group is conducting an experiment on invasive and native plants in Valdosta, Georgia. Are invasive plant species better adapted to live in Valdosta than native plant species? How do invasive specie...
view the full question and answer

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