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?


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

Friday - September 22, 2006

From: stephenville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Control methods for Cenchrus spinifex, Coastal sandbur
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have some of the nicest, thickest, greenest grassburs in the county of Erath. What is the best and quickest way to get rid of them? I have heard of a product called cornmeal gluten. Any info appreciated.


While more than one species of grassbur occurs in your area, the one plagueing you is probably Coastal grassbur or Coastal sandbur, Cenchrus spinifex. A grass itself, grassbur is a common, troublesome weed in pastures, lawns and other turf areas.

Grassbur thrives in overgrazed or otherwise struggling turf, especially nutrient-poor turf. Healthy turfgrass will typically outcompete Cenchrus. Improved turf health is the surest strategy for ridding the lawn of grassburs.

Corn gluten is a popular and effective pre-emergent herbicide useful for some annual weeds, especially crabgrass and dandelion. We have not heard of its use for control of grassbur, but it might be somewhat effective if for no other reason than it contains about 10% nitrogen, which your turfgrass will appreciate. The timing of corn gluten application is critical. To be effective, it must be put down just before weed seeds germinate.

I am forwarding some information on turfgrass management that you might find useful. This link is to an article from our Native Plant Clearinghouse on native lawns. Also, here is more information about Cenchrus spp. and their control.


More Invasive Plants Questions

Care for iceplant in Hawaii
October 25, 2008 - Good morning Mr. Smarty Plants( I love the name) I live in Hawaii and have iceplant on the hill behind my house. Its established pretty well.I weed it often. How much water do I need and how can I get...
view the full question and answer

Vinegar as a Herbicide
March 08, 2012 - When can you use vinegar on weeds to get rid of them.
view the full question and answer

Invasive phragmites from New Egypt NJ
July 30, 2011 - I have some wetland near a road. It has been taken over by phragmites. How is the best way to remove these grasses and add some diversity to this area. The area in question is approx. 100 by 30 feet.
view the full question and answer

Lists of edible plants in region of Pennsylvania for school project
September 12, 2006 - Please Help! I'm a grade four teacher in Philadelphia. My students and I are assigned a theme project that involves listing edible plants that grow in our region. Can you recommend a web site(s)...
view the full question and answer

Removal of Black Henbane from raised beds from Browning MT
May 10, 2010 - I am working with youth to create raised beds of native plants. Unfortunately we had a run in with a crop of Black Henbane, last year. They were already flowering by the time we tried to cut, or pull ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center