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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 13, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Invasive, non-native Bryophyllum spp. in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was given two varieties of what I now believe are 'Mother of Millions' and saw that they're considered a noxious weed in Australia. Are these plants considered dangerous to TX if I keep them in containers? Should I destroy them? If so, what is the best method? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Bryophyllum spp. genus contains many species of this succulent plant. Most of the websites we found are from Australia, which has a lot of problems with invasives not native to that country. We have also heard it called 'Mother of Thousands.' Not only is it invasive but some of the species are also poisonous; allowed to grow in fields ingesting it has caused the deaths of cattle and other livestock.

There are also conflicting opinions on exactly what the scientific name of these plants is; another resource said that Bryophyllum spp is a species in the genus Kalanchoe. You might want to read the conflicting opinions in this Dave's Garden forum website. The information on this site is that it is in the family Crassulaceae, genus Kalanchoe and species daigremontiana.

Whatever it's called, it is native to Madagascar and Africa, and therefore not part of our Native Plant Database. It can be frozen back, but we would not recommend putting it out in the garden. Apparently, it's an ugly plant with pretty flowers. If you wanted to keep it in a pot, we would recommend watching carefully that little plantlets didn't get away and sprout, and keep it out of the reach of children and pets. 

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