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
1 rating

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


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.


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. 




More Invasive Plants Questions

Information about person who handles invasive species at the Wildflower Center
October 01, 2015 - Would you please provide me a name, phone, and email address, of the person in your office who handles invasive species? Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, Cuscuta sp., Dodder
August 18, 2009 - A neighbor of mine has a vine with no leaves that is attaching itself to her flowering plants. It is yellow in color, just larger than fishing line and has no leaves. It corkscrews itself around the p...
view the full question and answer

Removing nut grass and wild strawberry in Vienna VA
June 13, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Pants, How do I get rid of wild strawberry plants and nut grass in my large garden bed? I have rosemary and thyme already there and don't want to use a harmful pesticide (kids and pets...
view the full question and answer

Non-native genista racemosa from Leander TX
March 28, 2012 - Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants. I fear I've made a horrible purchase at a local plant place. Bought a "broom" plant--it's not listed in your database. Latin name: genista racemosa, according to tag. ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement of Arizona ash in Austin
October 28, 2011 - We have two Arizona Ashes in our yard that probably have maybe a decade left in them. We want to get a couple new trees started, so they will be well established once the Ashes are near their end. In ...
view the full question and answer

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