En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - September 03, 2011

From: Anchorage, AK
Region: Northwest
Topic: General Botany, Invasive Plants
Title: Have invasive plants no useful purpose from Anchorage AK
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Does the definition of invasive plants include that the plant has no useful purpose? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Please read our How-To Article When is a Guest a Pest? which covers the things we would say about invasives.

The problem then is to define a "useful purpose." While some of our invasives are native that have gotten ahead of other plants due to environmental conditions, most invasives are non-native or alien. Some were stowaways on ships, some were seeded by birds or strong winds, or have gradually spread from connecting parts of the continent. Most, however, have been deliberately brought here for specific purposes, "useful" purposes in the eye of the conveyor. For instance:

The Amazing Story of Kudzu

Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer-King Ranch Bluestem

The United States Arboretum - Invasive Plants

Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group LEAST WANTED - Bastard Cabbage

On the other hand, to be the Devil's Advocate, let's consider photosynthesis. From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer: "When sunlight strikes a leaf, a process called photosynthesis is put into play, the plant converts the energy from the sun, combines it with water and nutrients in the plant, and metabolizes it into food to support the plant, form new structures within the plant, and store food in the roots. Along the way, it releases oxygen, which is a good thing for the human race. The plant uses carbon dioxide, not good for breathing in the process, and releases much needed oxygen as a waste product!" How cool is that? From sunlight and photosynthesis the whole food chain of Nature is begun. This happens in native plants, alien plants and invasive plants. It's hard to call a plant useless. It may be irritating, poisonous, ugly, intrusive, but it is still feeding all the lifeforms and providing oxygen.

 

 

 

More General Botany Questions

Can foxglove poison be transmitted to the soil and taken up by another plant
May 29, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently I discovered a Foxglove that had come up after being planted 2 or 3 yrs ago. Next to it I have some medicinal Feverfew growing. (They were so close together I suspec...
view the full question and answer

Should Rock Harlequin stay green all winter?
May 28, 2014 - I have a rock harlequin that came up in a area that had been disturbed. It came up last summer/fall and the foliage survived our tough winter. I can not find anything about this plant staying green al...
view the full question and answer

What is more important for plant growth; sunlight, water, soil or what?
February 20, 2009 - What is more important for plant growth generally. Sunlight, water, good soil what ? please write back I need an answer I am 13 doing a science project.
view the full question and answer

Information about Turk's Cap for school project
October 19, 2012 - Hello, my name is Veronica. I am doing a Species Study on Turk's Cap at Clint Small Middle School in the Green Tech Academy. I would like to learn more on my Native Texas Species. I am contacting you...
view the full question and answer

Kerrville Soil for Vegetables
May 03, 2012 - We are moving to our vacation home in Kerrville, TX and plan on putting in a vegetable garden on the sunny north side of our house. I'm assuming that your answer to the person inquiring about "soil...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center