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?


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

Friday - October 28, 2011

From: Westminster, MD
Region: Select Region
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Trees
Title: Control of Paulownia tomentosa from Westminster MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have heard that there is a type of herbicide that is to be applied to slashes made in the outer layer of invasive trees such as Paulownia. This type of application is reputed to prevent the little seedlings that sprout from the roots if the Paulownia is simply cut to the ground. Do you have suggestions?


Let us start by saying there are two things we don't like-the first is the use of non-native plants, such as Paulownia tomentosa, Princess Tree. The second thing we don't like is trying chemical fixes that endanger other plants, animals (including humans) and the environment. From Texasinvasives.org, in which the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower is an active partner, read this information from the Texas Invasives Database.  Mr. Smarty Plants never recommends plants that are neither native to North America nor to the areas in which they grow naturally. One of the main reasons for this is the possibility of invasiveness, taking over and pushing out natives that are adapted to the climate, moisture and soils of the area.

We do not pretend to be an expert nor to have any experience with the methods suggested but we will refer you to a couple of websites that seem to contain the information to which you are referring:

DCNR Invasive Exotic Plant Tutorial, Species management and control information on Paulonia tomentosa

From the University of Kentucky, Forest Health-Invasive Plant Hit List: Paulownia

We urge you to read all the information on these websites before making any kind of decision, and also to consult with a trained and licensed professional in the application of herbicides. We also frequently recommend that you start with the local Extension office, which may be able to steer you in the right direction on local laws and rules on herbicides. Your office is University of Maryland Extension Office for Carroll Co.

One last word: the best way to deal with an invasive plant is to never plant it!


More Invasive Plants Questions

Fast-spreading desert-type tree with thorns in yard
July 21, 2014 - There is a fast spreading tree in my backyard - many multiple almost symmetric flat green oval leaves on either side of the stem (sort of like a moringa tree but this is not that). Grows straight up, ...
view the full question and answer

Elimination of nutgrass from native flower bed
October 14, 2007 - Nutgrass!*#!* My new bed in NE Austin wraps around a hot sunny SW street corner. Grass wouldn't grow there [I wouldn't water it.] I removed the turf [mostly stickers] to a depth of about 4", carefu...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping large area in Webster KY
February 10, 2012 - We just bought a house that we fell in love with. The land around it . . . well it has GREAT potential but is seriously lacking at the moment. Trying to get the farm up and running leaves very litt...
view the full question and answer

Is Yaupon Invasive in the Austin Area?
March 24, 2011 - Is Yaupon Holly invasive in the Austin area? Should we be removing it from our yards and/or greenbelt spaces? Thanks for your input!
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers to choke out invasive species in Virginia
June 08, 2015 - My yard has open woods and dappled light with clay soil. Thirty years ago we removed huge briars and since English Ivy was getting in by itself, we thought we would let it come; unfortunately, it not ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center