Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
3 ratings

Wednesday - March 14, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Removing non-native plants appearing in Austin in early spring
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

In order to know which plants to keep and which to remove, is there a source to look up and identify common non-native plants that are seen in Austin about this time of the year (late winter, early Spring)?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center specializes in native plants, and our expertise in non-natives is limited.  However, many of us pull them out of our gardens pretty regularly.  So here are a few suggestions.

Texas Invasives keeps a web site showing the invasive plants found in the state. Many of the listed plants are large and perennial, and the long list is unwieldy to browse through.  I have the feeling that you are referring to small "weeds" that suddenly appear in flower beds and lawns at this time of year.  Many but not all of these are non-natives that happen to grow very well in our area.  I recommend a list compiled by Texas A & M. It has the best images I know for identification.  Look down the list of Annual Broadleaf Weeds and examine photos of the following (note that photo ref. 1 is not functional):  Bur clover, Catchweed bedstraw, Common purslane, Ground spurge, Hedge parsley, Henbit, Scarlet gaura, Spiny sowthistle, Spurge (prostrate), Thistle (Malta star), and Wild lettuce. These are among the most common plants invading our flower beds and gardens right now.  Among those not shown on the A & M list are the following common natives: Plantago major (Common plantain) and similar species, Taraxacum officinale (Common dandelion), Vicia ludoviciana (Louisiana vetch), Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus (Smallflower desert-chicory), also called Texas dandelion, and Parietaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania pellitory).  Images of these latter species are shown below.

I should mention an extremely invasive non-native that has overwhelmed the roadsides in Texas within just the past few years.  It is called Bastard cabbage, and is very difficult to erradicate.  If you happen to have that species, pull it up or cut it down quickly before it sets seeds.

I hope this limited information will be helpful to you.  Good luck in your gardening.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Common plantain
Plantago major

Common dandelion
Taraxacum officinale

Louisiana vetch
Vicia ludoviciana

Smallflower desert-chicory
Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus

Pennsylvania pellitory
Parietaria pensylvanica

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification from New York
August 21, 2014 - I have a sunflower like plant growing mysteriously in our garden. Its leaves are large heart shaped. It is a single stem plant. The base of each branch is a small, orange colored bud looking as if...
view the full question and answer

Need identification of a bush with red bumpy berries in PA.
October 02, 2009 - Pennsylvania - We are trying to identify a bush that has small red bumpy berries. The berries are the size of a crab apple or a cherry. Can you tell us what it is?
view the full question and answer

Plant called crows foot/feet used to make wreaths at Christmas
December 20, 2008 - In Pennsylvania there was a green ground hugging vine I knew as "crow's feet/foot" we used in the 1950s at Christmas time for wreaths and window and door borders. It looked like a cluster of bird'...
view the full question and answer

Pink flower in South Carolina, perhaps poisonous
July 09, 2008 - I saw a beautiful plant while touring Charleston, SC. I do not remember the name - the tour guide talked about a long time ago women giving it to their husband's in tea (maybe?) to kill them. Of co...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 06, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have some plants I cannot identify. They were given to me after a funeral. I love them, i would like to know WHAT THEY ARE??? Here are descriptions. I can get photos. (PS I liv...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.