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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - October 02, 2011

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Groundcovers
Title: Invasive non-native mulberry and groundcover in Jacksonville FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Northeast Florida (Jacksonville) inland. My mulberry tree provides dense shade in the summer and filtered light the other seasons, leaving sand in its growing area. What fast growing ground cover would take and survive under these conditions? Thanks!

ANSWER:

You did not say which mulberry you have. It could be Broussenetia papynifera, Paper Mulberry, which is native to China, or Morus rubra (Red Mulberry), native to the Eastern United States, but frequently hybridized with Morus alba, White Mulberry, also native to China.

Can we first talk about the Broussenetia papynifera, paper mulberry? In a word, we don't like it. It has become very invasive, spread by both birds and root sprouts, and both the seed dropping from birds and the berries themselves will stain any surface they land on. From the Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group, read this article on Paper Mulberry. They don't like it, either, putting it on their "Least Wanted" list.  University of Florida Extension Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants has information on the Paper Mulberry, and how invasive it is in Florida. Even if Broussenetia papynifera is not the precise species you have, most are non-native and invasive.

Quite aside from all that, we are not surprised you are having difficulty growing anything under that tree. The dense shade, berry drop and close to the surface invasive roots are not hospitable to any kind of competitive growth. As the seed and fruit drop and begin to develop new plants the competition will get even worse. Even our frequent suggestion of putting a good quality mulch on the under-tree area doesn't seem very practical. The thought of the berries and bird droppings combined with the mulch is not appealing.

Having expressed our opinion, we suggest you go to our Native Plant Database, select Florida, "Herb" (herbaceous blooming plant), part shade and shade and desired height, suggested 0 to 1 ft. We will give you a list of possible candidates, but remember, we absolutely do not guarantee that any of them will grow under your tree.

Groundcovers for shade in Florida:

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and gold)

Glandularia canadensis (Rose vervain)

Hexastylis arifolia (Littlebrownjug)

Hydrocotyle umbellata (Manyflower marshpennywort)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Little brown jug
Hexastylis arifolia

Rose vervain
Glandularia canadensis

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum

Manyflower marshpennywort
Hydrocotyle umbellata

More Invasive Plants Questions

Transplanting Virginia creeper
September 02, 2008 - I have a large Virginia creeper plant approximately 15 feet in length. Is it possible to transplant the whole thing without killing it? If so how do I care for it after it has been moved? Thank yo...
view the full question and answer

Controlling poison oak or poison ivy in Iowa
April 29, 2010 - We recently purchased a property that is VERY wooded and has been vacant for two yrs. with little upkeep previously. We have (we were told) l00 yr old poison oak vines hanging from trees. We hired so...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive carrot wood tree losing leaves in Alpine CA
April 22, 2014 - My carrot wood tree is losing all of its leaves. The tree is about 15foot high & 13 years old. Could it be gophers? The tree was trimmed 1 year ago.
view the full question and answer

Bermuda, not the only option in Memphis
November 04, 2014 - I'm building an energy efficient home in Memphis and want to extend that strategy to the landscaping. I'd like to plant native grasses, but this lot is surrounded by lots sodded with Bermuda grass....
view the full question and answer

Science project on invasive plants in American Samoa
September 23, 2004 - What is an experiment I can do on invasive plant species for a science project? What are some main invasive plant species found in American Samoa? Where can I go to find more information on invasive ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center