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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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Wednesday - August 15, 2012

From: York, England
Region: Other
Topic: Soils, Poisonous Plants
Title: Detoxifying soil from York England
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do you neutralize toxic soil, it may have been contaminated by Foxglove Digitalis Purpurea? Thankyou

ANSWER:

Wow! All the way from England. Nice Olympics, by the way. As it happens, your question is a little out of our territory. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, in Austin TX is dedicated to the growth, propagation and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally. However, we have a previous answer in which the gardener confused Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove) and/or Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon) with the actual Digitalis Purpurea, native to Europe but not to the United States.

Please read the previous answer we have linked you to, which says, among other things, that the real foxglove may be capable of taking toxins up that are already in the soil but not of injecting any toxins into the soil. If you suspect toxins in your soil you need to find the horticultural or agricultural department of a local university and find out how you can get your soil tested. In Texas, this is usually accomplished by the County Agent of the Extenstion Service of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University, if that gives you a clue on where to start looking. The college in your area would be the best equipped to advise you whether you can detoxify your soil if it is toxic, or not to worry about it.

Here is an article from North Carolina State University on Digitalis Purpurea. This does advise of the poisonous charcteristics but does not mention toxicity in the soil.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

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