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 Non-Natives Questions

How to Deal With Goutweed?
June 12, 2015 - Hi, I'm wondering what plants (groundcover) would best compete against goutweed. It's coming up all around some existing potentilla shrubs and some nice bulbs and prairie perennials. I would hate to...
view the full question and answer

Bloom color change in Choctaw Crape Myrtle
July 30, 2007 - In 2006 my wife bought a Choctaw Crape Myrtle from a local nursery. It had a tag from Greenleaf Nursery and had several blooms in the "correct" pink color. The plant was 5-6 ft tall. It has grown...
view the full question and answer

Fruit fly maggots attacking non-native Grumichama in Lake Worth FL
March 12, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants How do I prevent fruit fly maggots from attacking my Grumichama fruit?
view the full question and answer

Eliminating non-native invasive bermuda grass in Morgan's Point TX
April 25, 2010 - We are trying to establish a wildflower meadow, but are having trouble with the neighbor's invasive bermudagrass taking over..what can be done to eliminate the bermuda?
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Mandevilla
July 01, 2006 - I have purchased 2 Red Riding Hood Mandevilla's. The tag on it says it blooms spring to frost, full sun, ave size is 8 feet tall & spreading. I live in the Tampa FL area. Does this plant grow as a sh...
view the full question and answer

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