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?


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
5 ratings

Friday - March 26, 2004

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Smarty Plants Exotic Species
Answered by: Jil M. Swearingen, National Park Service


What is an Exotic Species?


An organism is considered exotic (alien, foreign, non-indigenous, non-native) when it has been introduced by humans to a location(s) outside its native or natural range. This designation applies to a species introduced from another continent, another ecosystem, and even another habitat within an ecosystem.

For example, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), a tree that is native to the southern Appalachian region and portions of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, was planted throughout the U.S. for living fences, erosion control, and other uses for many years. Black locust is considered exotic outside its natural native range because it got there by human introduction rather than by natural dispersal. Another example is saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), a wetland plant that is native to eastern North American estuaries. Saltmarsh cordgrass was introduced to western North American shoreline habitats, where it did not occur previously. It has established and become a serious invasive species, displacing native species and adversely impacting wetland communities.

European settlers brought hundreds of plants to North America from their home lands for use as food and medicine, and for ornamental, sentimental, and other purposes. Introductions of exotic plants continue today and are greatly increasing due to a large and ever-expanding human population, increased international travel and trade, and other factors.

More Invasive Plants Questions

How do I get rid of Smilax bona-nox?
June 09, 2009 - Hi, we live in Circle C and our home backs to an easment area which has become overrun with what some are calling wild grapevine. Recently we noticed a different vine coming up in our backyard throug...
view the full question and answer

Management practices to eradicate Johnson grass
September 02, 2006 - Please suggest some eradication methods for Johnson grass. It is established in a field that I want to encourage native wildflowers/plants such as goldenrod, prairie coneflower, blue eyed grass, milkw...
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive mints
March 30, 2005 - How do I remove common mint from my garden? I removed the previous years plants and tilled the soil. This year they came back more than before.
view the full question and answer

Plants for slope in central Alabama
July 26, 2011 - Our home is atop a 20-25' eastern facing sandy loam slope in central Alabama. It was previously covered w/ kudzu. After 3 yrs. of eradication of the kudzu we are ready to plant with native grasses/pl...
view the full question and answer

How to eliminate roadside thistles
May 26, 2015 - When we drive along the highway we see lots of wildflowers and no thistles in the median. How does the Highway Department keep the thistles out? Here in Kerrville, we are overwhelmed by thistles thi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center