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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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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!

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Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: El Paso, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Landscaping a new yard in El Paso, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am starting my back yard, we want to plant some sod grass and shade trees. We were doing some research and came across the Paulownia and the Royal Empress tree. I like them since they grow very fast; are they recommended to grow in El Paso, TX? What is the type of grass that is good for El Paso? We were thinking of Bermuda grass.

ANSWER:

No, they are definitely not recommended for El Paso, or anywhere in North America, for that matter. 

The Paulownia tomentosa, Princess Tree, is native to western and central China. The tree known as the Royal Empress Tree is the same tree. This site from the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group LEAST WANTED will tell you why we wouldn't like it if it WAS native. And it would not be recommended for El Paso, even then.

On to Cynadon dactylon, bermudagrass. Guess what? We don't like it, either. It is native to Africa (not Bermuda) and has become one of the most invasive weeds in the South. See this University of California  Integrated Pest Management article on how to get rid of it.

As is the case with most non-native invasive plants, the best way to get rid of this tree and this grass is to never plant them. Remember, you were warned! 

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. If you wish, we will be happy to recommend some trees and grasses native to El Paso County, TX that are adapted by millennia of experience to the soils, climate and and water availability of your area. 

 

 

 

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