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
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 Planting Questions

Transplanting a redbud in August from St. Louis MO
August 09, 2011 - I have a 4' tall redbud that needs to be transplanted before the end of August because of construction on our house. Can this be done without killing the tree? Can I take a cutting from the tree and ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Perennials for flower bed in Humble TX
July 28, 2010 - I have a 10 foot by 10 foot flower bed that needs to be replanted and I am located in Houston, TX so what would be some good perennials to plant that are good to grow in this heat? I have been told L...
view the full question and answer

Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
May 28, 2012 - 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...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Trees for Cedar Creek, TX
August 14, 2013 - Hello I am wanting to plant some evergreen trees on my property out in Cedar Creek Texas. We have a lot of cedar trees but I really would like some live oaks. Is it possible to grow live oaks or somet...
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