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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - November 28, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Bumelia sending up shoots in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a bumelia that is sending up shooters everywhere in my yard. Everywhere!! I started to dig them up, but many come from deep roots and my digging seems to have encouraged the tree to send up more shooters. Ideas on how to control?


Sideroxylon lanuginosum (Gum bumelia) is a member of the Sapotaceae Family of plants, and we did some research trying to determine if that family was more prone to putting out root sprouts, or shoots. This was never mentioned in the literature we saw, so we are just assuming that it is a common habit for this plant. There really is no quick and easy solution to this problem, shared by many other trees and shrubs. Usually, it is for propagation of the species, as plants create clumps of plants, all interconnected by roots, with shoots coming up to form branches, produce leaves and begin providing food to the whole plant. Live oaks and sumac are other plants that have this habit. You cannot use an herbicide to kill the shoots, because it will go to the roots of the shoot, which are also the roots of the main plant, and kill that. It's a war you probably won't win, but you can employ delaying tactics, such as regular close mowing, if the roots are coming up in lawn, and cutting off the shoots down 2 to 4 inches beneath the soil surface. See this previous answer for suggestions on appropriate tools for this operation.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Sideroxylon lanuginosum




More Pruning Questions

Controlling oak suckers in Austin
June 24, 2012 - We have 2 live oak trees that are sprouting shoots all around the surrounding area. We would like to plant some grass and would like to remedy this first. We have mowed the shoots and still they jus...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Citrus Suckers
October 06, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants, you are the only person that has "not" insisted that the little balls on Satsuma and lemon trees were clumps of bugs. They are surely what you described in the answer to my previo...
view the full question and answer

When is the appropriate time to prune pecan trees in Hewitt?
September 07, 2008 - Labor Day Weekend my husband decided to trim all the low branches on a big pecan tree in our back yard which I thought should had been done at the first of the year, our temprature is in the mid 90's...
view the full question and answer

How to prune wild mustang grape vines.
July 11, 2011 - Now that my mustang grapes are harvested. When can I trim them out of the tree top and redirect them to an arbor where I can reach them next year? The main vine is at least 3" across. The vines from...
view the full question and answer

Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
March 29, 2011 - I've got some wax myrtles that have grown up in the last 10 years on my property line, completely volunteer. My neighbor has begun to grumble about too much shade on his yard. I'd like to trim them ...
view the full question and answer

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