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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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Saturday - May 28, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Milkweed and non-native goatweed in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Which parks or fields can we find many milkweed and goatweed in Austin, TX? I live in Austin, TX 78757.

ANSWER:

That depends. Did you want to look at them, photograph them or dig them up? Digging up native plants is pretty restricted-they may be on private land, or in a private garden, or in a park or botanical garden, like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Any of the custodians of those places would frown on having plants removed, and it is absolutely forbidden at the Wildflower Center.

Epimedium, goatweed, is a genus of about 60 plants endemic to China, so we are hoping you CANNOT find them in the Austin area. 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 those plants grow natively.

If you are interested in attracting butterflies or providing larval hosts for them, you can follow the plant links below and find out which species of Asclepias, milkweed, attract which butterflies and/or bees. For that purpose, to plant them in your own garden, we suggest you wait until Fall to purchase starter plants or seeds and follow the Propagation Instructions on the webpages for each plant.

If you were thinking of some herbal or medicinal use for the milkweeds, please read this:

Warning: All plants in the genus Asclepias are probably somewhat toxic, some fatally so, to both humans and animals. The sap of some causes skin irritation in humans. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant’s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Our Native Plant Database lists 48 species of the genus Asclepias, milkweed, of which 35 are native to Texas, and 4 to the Central Texas area. These are:

Asclepias asperula (Spider milkweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Asclepias viridiflora (Green milkweed)

Asclepias viridis (Green antelopehorn)

 

From the Image Gallery


Antelope horns
Asclepias asperula

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Green milkweed
Asclepias viridiflora

Green milkweed
Asclepias viridis

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