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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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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!

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Saturday - March 17, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Bastard cabbage in Austin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Not sure if this is the forum to address this; but is there any effort out there to do something about the bastard cabbage taking over Austin? Especially on MoPac where you can hardly see the bluebonnets this year. This stuff exploded in front of my business in Cedar Park a few years ago and I pulled it all out in a few weeding sessions and it has not been a problem since. Has the Highway Department or whoever in charge of this just decided it's hopeless and we will watch it take over?

ANSWER:

1. Mr. Smarty Plants is not a forum, right or wrong. We are a largely volunteer team answering questions about native plants.

2. From Texas Invasives, here is information on the spread of Rapistrum rugosum (Bastard cabbage).

3. The responsible agency on roadside plants such as this is the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot). Here are their Vegetation Management Guidelines. Sometimes mowing is delayed or prohibited to permit wildflowers (such as bluebonnets) get through their blooming season and set seeds, but there are probably funding and manpower issues that keep all the roadsides from being mowed all the time.

4. Bastard Cabbage is a survivor; it can be mowed almost to the ground and will promptly put out some stalks, even from flat on the surface, bloom and put out seeds.

5. If there were enough willing volunteers to get out and hand-pull the plants, as you have done, possibly it could be controlled, but we don't think so.

5. Here is an article on the spread and control of the plant from the Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group.

6. From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, Invasive Plants.

 

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