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?

Share

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

Wednesday - June 29, 2011

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: What is pulling Indian Grass out of a park in Washington DC?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are renovating a park in Washington, DC on the waterfront. We have planted Sorghastrum Nutans (Indian Grass). During the evening/overnight something is pulling the plants from the ground. It is only plant that is being removed. Any ideas/suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) is a wonderful native grass, found in tallgrass prairies. It is native to your area so it's not dropping dead and walking away. In this article from Illinois Wildflowers Indian Grass we found this excerpt:

"Several species of grasshoppers feed on the foliage of Indian Grass; these grasshoppers are an important source of food to many insectivorous songbirds and upland gamebirds. Other insects that feed on this prairie grass include the leafhopper Flexamia reflexus, the planthopper Myndus fulvus, the Issid planthopper Bruchomorpha extensa, and the caterpillars of Amblyscirtes hegon (Pepper-and-Salt Skipper). The foliage is also palatable to hoofed mammalian herbivores, including bison and cattle. Because of its height and tendency to remain erect, it provides good cover for many kinds of birds and animals in prairies."

Okay, so we don't think the grasshoppers are pulling the Indian Grass out by the roots. Got any cattle walking around in DC? Is there any chance that someone else with a garden that needs some prairie grasses is shopping in your park? We also thought of deer, because as their habitats disappear, more and more of them are becoming urbanized. However, we looked at our Deer Resistant Species list, and learned that Indian Grass is highly deer resistant. In fact, most deer don't care for most grasses, and I don't think they would pull them out of the ground.

We think you need to talk to some people closer to the situation and familiar with plant predators. The University of the District of Columbia has a Cooperative   Extension Office for Washington DC. An alternative would be the Virginia State University Cooperative Extension Office. If they don't know what is ravaging your stands of Indian Grass, they may know some organization to refer you to. All we can tell you is cattle like it, deer probably don't, and grasshoppers aren't big enough to do more than chew holes.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Habiturf for shady areas in San Antonio TX
November 08, 2013 - Will the Habiturf grass mentioned here do well in shady areas too?
view the full question and answer

Wildflower meadow on former cattle pasture in North Carolina
May 17, 2005 - We have purchased approximately 7 acres of land in North Carolina. A neighbor has been using the land for grazing his cows, but I hope to plant it with wildflowers once we've built a small house. W...
view the full question and answer

Plants for area around pool in Plano, Texas
October 13, 2009 - I just built an in ground pool in Plano, Texas and now want to landscape around it on my own. I am curious what plants/shrubs you recommend. There will be plants/shrubs on three sides of the pool. ...
view the full question and answer

Native Desert Willow and bunchgrass for Lubbock TX
July 29, 2013 - We live in Lubbock and have decided to try to make our front yard as native as possible. It has been a very difficult process finding native species locally (even the local Aggie nursery sells a lot ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering native plants for Bastrop, TX
February 20, 2009 - What type of flowering plants, trees,and bushes will grow in Bastrop, Texas? I see lots of things around, please help, have never done before.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center