En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 28, 2012

From: Mechanicsville, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Managing Roadsides, Non-Natives, Plant Laws, Planting, Propagation, Poisonous Plants, Wildflowers
Title: Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, is it illegal to dig out wild buttercup in Maryland? I see them along the dirt road or just in the ditch. Since buttercup considered weed, I'm wondering what the law say about this. Thank you!

ANSWER:

We (excuse the pun) dug around quite a bit trying to find official word on disturbing roadside wildflowers in Maryland. We found this one website Wildflowers from the Maryland State Highway Administration. We know that in Texas, digging or gathering plants on a roadside is discouraged in the interest of safety, and that plants or seeds may not be removed from private land without the express permission of the landowner.

Now that we are pretty sure the State Troopers won't come after you, we will address this question in a different way. Are you sure you WANT to dig up and transplant "wild buttercups?" Let's talk about the common name.

We really hate plant common names. The Ranunculus (buttercup) genus has 41 species in our Native Plant Database. None of them have the common name "wild," but at least we are close. All buttercups are species of the genus Ranunculus (buttercup). So, there are 41 that we know of that are native to North America, and lots more that we haven't identified or are hybrids or non-natives. It is thought that many non-native wildflowers have come to North America in "wildflower seed mixes."

By various means, we finally decided that there was a good chance that what you are looking at in Maryland is Ranunculus repens, which is native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa. At the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, we encourage the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which they grow naturally. Native plants are already accustomed by centuries of experience to climates, rainfall and soils. We researched on that particular species to see what good and bad qualities it has.

University of Tennessee Extension Buttercup and Thistle in Your Pasture

King County, WA Noxious Weeds - Creeping Buttercup

Dave's Garden Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup) with 8 negative comments on invasivness.

Our reading of this is that the "wild buttercup" would be only too happy to move to your garden, and Highway Department would not care at all, but you (and your neighbors) could be very sorry.

Compare these pictures with the ones you are seeing on the roadsides to see if that is what it is.

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Is Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) known to cause skin irritation
July 23, 2013 - Is Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata L.) known to cause a rash? We are trying to identify the source of a rash-after-gardening, and have not seen any of the big three (poison ivy, poison oak, poison suma...
view the full question and answer

Non-toxic plants for horses in Virginia from Doswell VA
February 13, 2012 - Looking for a list of Non Toxic plants to horses in the State of Virginia.
view the full question and answer

Dog Friendly Privacy Hedge for Long Island
April 14, 2013 - Can you please advise me of some plants for a privacy hedge that are non-toxic to dogs and that would thrive on Long Island, NY? I am looking for a hedge to grow to about 6-8 ft.
view the full question and answer

Identification of possible toxic plant in Austin, TX
June 20, 2014 - When we hike with our dogs along Turkey Creek in Austin, they seem to make a bee line to a small green leafy plant when they find it along the trail and eat a few leaves of it. We assume it's not dan...
view the full question and answer

Detoxifying soil from York England
August 15, 2012 - How do you neutralize toxic soil, it may have been contaminated by Foxglove Digitalis Purpurea? Thankyou
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center