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

Friday - February 24, 2012

From: Horseshoe Bay, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native aparejograss and Water-cress at a spring in Horeshoe Bay TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

AT a small spring that seeps from a rocky hill on my ranch near Austin, a stringy grass called aparejograss has replaced the watercress that used to be there. Should I be worried? Does the appearance of this plant mean the spring in trouble?

ANSWER:

Frankly, we had never heard of Muhlenbergia utilis (Aparejograss), but we are familiar with the genus Muhlenbergia. It is a member of the Poaceae (grass) family and grows natively over large parts of the country, including Llano and Burnet Counties. There are several plants with the name "cress" in their common names; one native to North America and Central Texas is  Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania bittercress).

You can follow either plant link to our webpage on the plant to learn it likes moist, woodland areas and part shade. There was not much information on Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania bittercress) but we found an article from Illinois Wildflowers that had pictures. It is a member of the Brassicaceae (mustard) family, some of which can become invasive, but we found no indication that this plant does so.

We did considerable searching on spring protection, but could find no research that showed one or another small plant could be a threat to a spring. We all have heard the stories about trees taking over and shutting down spring flows, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Both plants are annuals and it might be that they will rotate the use of the spring, as weather and rain dictates. If you are truly concerned about the invasiveness of the cress, you could hand pull it or make sure it is not permitted to seed out.

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plants for under live oak in Houston
July 09, 2011 - Hi, We have a live oak in our back garden in Houston and would like to plant a combination of some native shrubs and flowers near it (preferably perennial). The garden bed is about 4 metres from the...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Woodcreek TX
January 27, 2012 - I would like to attach a photo of a weed in my lawn and have you identify it. How do I send a photo? I have been told it may be ground ivy. Please tell me how to kill it without damaging the lawn.
view the full question and answer

Perennial blooming plants for Ashland MO
April 02, 2010 - I am beginning to create a flower bed in front of my house, I do not have a green thumb so I want to know what plants would come back yearly and I can plant now in Mid Missouri?
view the full question and answer

Germinating Milkweed Seeds
January 23, 2015 - When is the best time to plant milkweed seeds outside? I was told when the overnight temperature hits 70 F. (our garden is in Lakeway, Texas). So around late May? Is this when the seeds germinate i...
view the full question and answer

How to keep plants alive in a pot beside a patio waterfall.
May 13, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a waterfall on my patio and I can't keep my plants alive in the flower pot next to waterfall. Is that beacuse of algae produced by waterfall? If so, can you please recomme...
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