En EspaÑol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - September 30, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a large quantity of seeds of Merremia dissecta that I acquired from plants growing in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art. (Hmmm… I wonder if it's called alamo vine because of some connection to the historic site.) I loved the look of the plant, but I was afraid to plant the seeds until I knew whether it was native—so I was pleased to see it in "What's in Bloom in your newsletter about Austin Museum Day. In your information about this vine, I noticed that it often grows on streambanks. My question has three parts: first, how well does it hold the soil when it grows on streambanks? Second, does it tend to overwhelm and choke out other natives, or would it serve, to some degree, as a nursery plant for the youngest of seedlings? Finally, would it be wise to use these seeds to restore native plants to a streambed here in Travis County where removing invasive species would leave almost nothing behind?

ANSWER:

Before we get into your questions, we would like to ask if you asked permission from the San Antonia Museum of Art for permission to pick the seeds from the Merremia dissecta (Alamo vine)? Many parks and historic sites have strict rules about removing plant material of any kind from their premises. Even on private farm land, you should obtain permission before you remove anything. We realize that this plant is not protected and can even be invasive where it is growing, so probably no harm was done. However, everyone needs to respect the rights of private property. Oh, yes, you were wondering if the the common name, "Alamo vine," was given it because it grows nearby; probably so, but one of the stories about how the Alamo itself got its name is that there was a nearby stand of cottonwood trees and "alamo" is the Spanish name for cottonwood.

Beyond that, we don't believe we have an answer to your specific questions. You are right, it is native, as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map in both Bexar County, from which the plants were taken, and Travis County, where you propose to plant them. If you follow this plant link, Merremia dissecta (Alamo vine), to our webpage on the plant, you will learn all that we know about the plant, including that  native habitat is open and disturbed areas, stream banks, and dry soils in central Texas. Also, under Growing Conditions is this phrase: "Can be very aggressive." In fact, just about any member of the Convolvaceae (morning glory) family can pretty well take over any space. Here is our take on the specific questions:

1. How well does it hold the soil when it grows on streambanks? Our webpage specifically states that it thrives on streambanks.

2. Does it tend to overwhelm and choke out other natives, or would it serve, to some degree, as a nursery plant for the youngest of seedlings? Well, it is aggressive, but plants don't know the difference between native and non-native. If you have an invasive plant, it will push out natives just as readily as non-natives. In the same vein, we have no way of knowing if it can be a "nursery plant," and it is just as likely to "nurse" a non-native.

3. Would it be wise to use these seeds to restore native plants to a streambed here in Travis County where removing invasive species would leave almost nothing behind? It would certainly be worth a try but, again, invasive is invasive. The presently growing invasives in the areas you are concerned with have not only gotten a head start but no doubt have rhizomes and seeds in the ground waiting to quickly pop up when you clear the area. By the time you got the seeds in that you have started, they would likely already be behind.

All of this is not to say that it would not be worth the trouble. You would have to decide if you want to clear out a non-native invasive for an "aggressive" native, and how much work it is going to involve. Most morning glories prefer to climb up on something, trees, trellises, etc., but with nothing to climb they would surely spread on the ground.

 

From the Image Gallery


Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Wildflower garden with Castilleja indivisa (Indian paintbrush)
January 08, 2013 - I want to start a wildflower garden in my front/backyard. Specifically, I would like to include the indian paintbrush. What is the best way to go about this? Straight in the ground, containers, etc...
view the full question and answer

Milkweed with the biggest pods in Smith County, TX?
September 11, 2009 - I live in East Texas and I would like to know which of the milkweed plants bears the largest seed pod. I would also like to know the best time to locate the pods in and around the Smith County area.
view the full question and answer

Latest time to mow bluebonnets from Chappell Hill TX
February 13, 2014 - The past few years, my bluebonnets have been overwhelmed by tall grass. I could have solved this by mowing later, but I was always afraid of mowing new bluebonnet plants. When is the latest time I can...
view the full question and answer

How do you determine male persimmon seedlings from the females?
May 11, 2013 - I have got new persimmon seedlings about 3 inches tall this spring, and am wondering if there is any way to tell male from female at this young stage? I just don't want to plant 20 or 40 seedlings an...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on seed harvesting
August 09, 2004 - I am interested in learning more about harvesting native seeds. I manage a number of sites where restoration projects will involve planting, and we would like to use native seed stocks. Could you te...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center