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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

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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Monday - April 16, 2012

From: Brownstown, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Edible Plants, Groundcovers
Title: Help with control of small, invasive groundcover
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a very invasive ground cover creeping into my yard. I've tried to identify it and it's similar to creeping charlie or garlic mustard. Leaves are triangular with jagged edges, small purple flowers. It grows in clumps in the lawn and in the soil. Doesn't seem to have much of a smell, not minty or garlicky, just smells like dirt! I think I may have figured it out. Possibly purple dead nettle. I also see that it is edible?? Well, I'm not sure I'm going to be putting it in my smoothies, but I'd still like to know how to control it. Neighbors yard is full of it! Thanks again for you time! Can you help me with control. It wants to invade my vegetable garden! Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

Your description does sound like Lamium purpureum (Purple dead-nettle), a Eurasian native that is listed as an invasive weed.   Here are more photos and information from the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide.

Suggestions for its control from Michigan State University, Clemson University, Turf Grass Science from the University of Tennessee and GardenGuides.com include application of herbicides, hand pulling, tilling and preventing it from setting seed by keeping it mown to a level that removes the flowers and developing seeds.  Michigan State University Weed Science article suggest that tilling it under will control it.  All of the articles suggest herbicides and there is an excellent table listing herbicides, their properties and cautions and instructions on their use in the University of Tennessee article.

According to Nature's Herbal, it is edible.  Maybe if you try and like those smoothies, you could control it that way—by eating it!

 

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