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 Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native buffalograss for Round Rock, TX
September 14, 2009 - Hi, I am wondering what the best Buffalo grass selection would be for Round Rock, Tx? I have about 400 - 500 Sq Ft that boarders the street that I would like to maintain as a natural type of environme...
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine with native grass in Austin
February 24, 2012 - We are renting a house our Sister-in-law owns- the St Augustine is in tough shape, drought and lack of care over the years. Could we plant a native grass or do we have to pull up the remaining St. Aug...
view the full question and answer

Controlling sedge in vegetable garden in Mississippi
August 03, 2008 - I have a veg. garden surrounded by Purple Sedge. The nut grass has been contained/eliminated by replacing all dirt 1' down. Now the surrounding sedge is beginning to creep inward infesting the gard...
view the full question and answer

Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
June 05, 2010 - We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to t...
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