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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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Thursday - August 19, 2010

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Acid rain in Ft. Worth?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

ALERT. NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION. Why are so many trees, plants, etc. in the Fort Worth area dying?? I heard acid rain. Please don't say drought. I have lived in this area all my life and survived the summer of 1980. No trees died back then. What is happening? Thank you,

ANSWER:

Whoa, it's not time to panic! We also were living in North Texas in 1980, and we remember it was a very bad year. But that was 30 years ago, and we are sure that, while you survived, many trees and shrubs did not. North Texas had some record-setting cold weather last winter, which no doubt caused a lot of damage to the woody plants that were not protected, or perhaps not acclimated to such cold temperatures. Then, along comes the usual Texas summer, another blow to the plants.

But, just to collect a few facts, first read this U.S. Geological Society study on Acid Rain. Note the color-coded map at the first page; you can see that the worst concentrations are in the Northeast. In Texas, as well as most of the West and Midwest, the rain is relatively low in acid content. This study from the Environmental Protection Agency on Acid Rain has many suggestions on ways to keep the industrial effluvients out of the rain and out of the air. If you follow the links, you can see that Region 6, which includes Texas, is very active in environmental activity.

We're not sure why you are alerting us, specifically. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is in the forefront of environmental protection activity, promoting the use of native plants, cutting down on water use as well as chemical use in agriculture and gardening, and encouraging the growth of plants that will continue to contribute abundant oxygen to the air. Please read our article on Sustainable Sites for more information.

In summary, we don't know where you heard that acid rain was killing the trees and shrubs in Ft. Worth, but we can tell you that trees and shrubs and flowers die every year, all the time, from various reasons, including herbicides, lack of rain, heat, cold, inappropriate growing methods and old age. Everyone needs to do their part to cut down on the pollutants in the air and water.

 

 

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