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
5 ratings

Sunday - July 24, 2005

From: Milan-Italy, Other
Region: Other
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Alkalinity-tolerant grasses
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus/Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

Dear Sirs - Are you aware of any grass species that could survive in strongly alkaline soils (ph from 10 up to 12) Thanks a lot.

ANSWER:

Our focus and expertise is on plants native to North America and we know of no North American grasses that will grow on such extremely alkaline soils.

We did find a couple of grasses, one from Australia and one from New Zealand, that tolerate alkaline soils. Vetiver zizanioides, used in Australia for mine rehabilitation, is reported to be highly tolerant of extreme soil conditions including heavy metals and pH levels from 3.0 to 10.5. You can read more about this grass on the Vetiver Network webpage. Another grass reported to grow on strongly alkaline soils is Australopyrum calcis, a grass endemic to New Zealand.

With such extreme pH readings it sounds as if you might dealing with mine tailings or some other toxic waste site. If so, we can direct you to several sources that address this issue:

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Phytoremediation Research

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Federal Remediation Technologies (FRTR): Phytoremediation

EPA and RTDF (Remediation Technologies Development Forum) Phytoremediation Bibliography

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Suggested plants for between flagstones in Austin, TX
March 24, 2007 - I would like to plant something between my flagstones on patio. I am taking up the cement mortar and want something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little traffic. ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Trees and other plants for privacy along lake shoreline
March 09, 2013 - We are purchasing a new home that has a 2 acre lake. We would like to add some plants/trees for privacy around the shore line. Can you suggest something that would fill in nicely and is strong enoug...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a dry hillside in central Texas
March 07, 2010 - We need to plant some plants or grasses on a 3/4 acre sloaping hillside which does not get watered. Any recommendations for native grasses or plants which don't need care and will keep the lot from e...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for cemetery north of Dallas
May 16, 2009 - I need something to plant on a grave in a country cemetery north of Dallas. There's no water piped to the site; it's basically just a pasture. I'm hoping to find a native plant that will be fairly ...
view the full question and answer

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