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

Saturday - October 31, 2009

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflower Center
Title: Grass at Wildflower Center with purple glow
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the clumping grass along the WFC meadow trail that has a seedhead resembling bermudagrass and a glow similar to purple three-awn when backlit by the sun. I saw it yesterday (Oct. 2) and wondered if it was Chloris verticillata.

ANSWER:

Although there is some Chloris verticillata (tumble windmill grass) growing in the meadow at the Wildflower Center, Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that most likely what you saw was King Ranch (KR) Bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum).  It is a native grass of Europe, North Africa and Asia and was introduced into the United States in the early 1900s, probably 1917 into California, for cattle food and erosion control.  You can read more about the history of its introduction in an answer to a previous question.  It is on the Texas Invasives list and you can read about how difficult it is to get rid of—that's why the Wildflower Center has plenty of it on its grounds.  According to Dr. Kelly Lyons of Trinity University in San Antonio, the Texas Department of Tranportation's seeding of the rights of way of Texas highways with KR bluestem to prevent erosion has crowded out many of the wildflowers growing along the roadways—those that were also planted by TxDOT. KR bluestem is agressive and tends to take over and create a monoculture.

Despite all its bad traits, its seed heads do produce a beautiful purple 'glow'.  These are quite evident along the roadside of MoPac on the way to the Wildflower Center.  Here are photos of KR bluestem.

 

More Wildflower Center Questions

Ways to learn more about native plants of region
March 20, 2004 - How can I learn more about the native plants of my region?
view the full question and answer

Purchase access to plants at Wildflower Center
February 08, 2007 - I am interested in purchasing some of your plants. How can I do that? Do you send plants thru the mail or is their a nursery near you that has access to your plants that does? I am interested in Sa...
view the full question and answer

Flowering native plants for Evanston IL
July 12, 2009 - What flowering, native plants would be suitable for a backyard garden in Evanston Illinois?
view the full question and answer

Flowers at the Wildflower Center
September 09, 2010 - What common wildflowers are in the Wildflower Center?
view the full question and answer

Why is Hamelia patens, a species listed as invasive, in the Wildflower Center database?
September 29, 2010 - Hamelia patens (Firebush) is listed as an invasive plant at Invasive.Org, the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, which partners with the US Forest Service, Univ of GA and others. LBJ ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center