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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - March 09, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Controlling Rapistrum rugosum (annual bastardcabbage)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

The invasive, Rapistrum rugosum, seems to be especially ubiquitous this year. I communicated with Dr. Mark Simmons a few years ago regarding his research, which indicated that over-sowing with the native wildflower, "Indian Blanket," controls or even eliminates the Rapistrum. However, when I forwarded this information to the UT Maintenance Dept. here at the Pickle Research Campus, the suggestion fell on deaf ears. Can mowing of the Rapistrum in the Spring time (before it goes to seed) also help? Would the you be willing to share your information with UT Maintenance? I don't seem to be having much effect on them. Thank you.

ANSWER:

According to the USDA Plants Database Rapistrum rugosum (Annual bastardcabbage) is an annual.  Cutting them down before they set seed would certainly reduce the numbers that will be produced next year.  Mark Simmons said that some blooms can grow low on the stem and may be below the mower blade and survive the mowing.  Additionally, seeds that have fallen previously can lie dormant for an extended time and come up when condidtions are favorable. Texas Invasives.org recommends pulling them up by hand—including pulling up the taproot—as the most effective strategy.  However, I doubt that this strategy is one that the UT Maintenance Department is likely to use.  That said, cutting them before they set seed would certainly reduce the seed base available for next year's crop and it is a very straightforward thing to do.

 

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