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?


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

Thursday - April 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native, invasive bamboo for sloped river bank in Texas?
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Nan Hampton


What type of native plants/trees/shrubs/grasses would you recommend planting on a 20 ft sloped bank on the Colorado river in Texas to prevent further erosion of the bank? How do you feel about bamboo? I hear it is excellent at preventing erosion but can be invasive.


We feel really, really bad about bamboo. It is not only invasive but non-native to North America. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we deal only in plants that are native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. See this eHow website on How to Get Rid of Bamboo to demonstrate why you do NOT want to plant that.

Grasses are what you need. Their extensive fibrous root systems hold the soil in place. Here are a few that should do the job:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) does well in part shade and shade and on stream banks.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) requires full sun (6 hours or more per day) and moisture.

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass) grows in part shade (2 to 6 hours sun per day) and does well on stream banks.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) grows in sun and part shade and can withstand flooding.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) requires sun and often found by streams.

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) for sun and part shade and grows well in damp places.

The following shrubs,  along with the grasses, should also do well to help control erosion. 

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) grows in part shade and shade.

Forestiera pubescens (stretchberry) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) grows in part shade and shade.

Prunus rivularis (creek plum) grows in part shade and is good for erosion control.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:

Chasmanthium latifolium

Andropogon glomeratus

Tripsacum dactyloides

Andropogon gerardii

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Panicum virgatum

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Forestiera pubescens

Sabal minor

Lindera benzoin

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Prunus rivularis



More Non-Natives Questions

Removal of non-native invasive Ligustrum japonica from Austin
February 14, 2012 - I bought a house that I am slowly turning into a native garden, but as a teacher, I have a really small budget. One entire border of my backyard (30 feet) was planted with evil Ligustrum japonica. I l...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native St. Augustine lawn from Austin
October 06, 2013 - We have St. Augustine in our front lawn. There are some patches where the grass has entirely died but mixed in with the dead areas are little clumps of living grass. It seems to be spreading througho...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native 'Glacier Blues' from Charlton MA
March 24, 2012 - Do you have to prune or cut down Glacier Blues in the garden? My plants look brown and wilted.
view the full question and answer

Non-native Centaurium spicatum, family gentianceae
January 21, 2008 - I need to know every single detail about centaurium spicatum family gentianceae.
view the full question and answer

Disposal of non-native invasive clerodendron
August 15, 2007 - What do you do about clerodendron that is spreading like wildfire. A friend gave me one plant before I was acquainted with invasives!!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center