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

Eliminating crabgrass in Middletown MO
September 28, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am having trouble with my lawn, specifically with the crabgrass in it. It now covers over 1/3 of it. I started using corn gluten meal this year, with limited tangible succ...
view the full question and answer

New gardener on lawn for Poolville TX
April 28, 2012 - I have never had the opportunity to have a nice yard until recently when I got married. My husband loves a nice yard and we have worked very hard and put in hours of work. We are learning by trial a...
view the full question and answer

Tolerance to foot traffic for native turf grass
December 16, 2010 - I have read your articles on your mix of three native seeds for turf grass and on other native grasses but am left with a couple of lingering questions. We have about a 600 sq. ft area we want to plan...
view the full question and answer

Need something to compete with Virginia wild rye in Bristol, TN.
July 29, 2011 - I have been working for 4 years to convert a large area of sunny lawn (150' x 40') to a native woodland planting, using native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. Although I used seeds of a variety ...
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing Bermuda grass from Buffalo grass
June 14, 2007 - Is Bermuda grass taking over my Buffalo grass lawn? I recently sodded a small area of Buffalo Grass 'Prairie' (last fall). It's doing beautifully, or so I think. There are stolons running and reach...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center