En EspaŅol

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - March 26, 2013

From: Cambridge, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Problem Plants, Shade Tolerant, Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have tried local grass seeds. Nothing takes. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

I think your problem is twofold:  1) shade and, perhaps, 2) the allelopathic effect of the juglone in the pecan tree.  Juglones are chemicals produced by trees in the Family Juglandaceae (Walnut Family) that are capable of inhibiting the growth of some, but not all, other plants. You can see lists of plants susceptible to juglones and those tolerant of juglones from Ohio State University.  (Be aware that not all the plants on their list are native to Maryland or even to North America.)  It appears that the level of  juglone in Carya illinoinensis (pecan) is less than in walnuts.  Grasses, in general, seem to be tolerant of juglones.  In fact, there have been studies showing that bermudagrass and tall fescue are allelopathic to pecan seedlings!

Here are three grasses and a sedge that occur in Maryland and will grow in the shade or part shade.  I have personal experience with inland sea oats growing quite happily under my walnut tree in Texas and suspect the other three species will also be tolerant of your pecan's juglones.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Here are a few herbs and a fern from the Ohio State University list that are native to Maryland and will grow in the shade or part shade:

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches)

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

Trillium species such as Trillium grandiflorum (Large-flower wakerobin)

Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort)

Viola canadensis (Canadian white violet) and Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet) and other violets

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern)

For all the species named above, you should check the other characteristics shown under GROWING CONDITIONS on the species page to determine if they match those of your site.

 

From the Image Gallery


Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Nimblewill
Muhlenbergia schreberi

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Jack in the pulpit
Arisaema triphyllum

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

White wake-robin
Trillium grandiflorum

Virginia spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana

Canadian white violet
Viola canadensis

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

Cinnamon fern
Osmunda cinnamomea

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plant for full sun behind waterfall
March 21, 2009 - I have a 24 inch waterfall around my pool. I need to plant something behind it. I have full sun and hot Texas weather. I will be watering everyday, so what do you think would grow well in this area?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Sunny Slope in CT
May 11, 2013 - I need a plant to use as groundcover and for erosion control on a sunny slope in southwestern Connecticut. Any suggestions other than juniper?
view the full question and answer

Plants for hanging flower boxes from Austin
July 27, 2013 - I have two long flower boxes 17" x 15" x 25 feet long one on the north side of the apt and one on the south made of metal suspended about four feet from the ground. One will get the morning sun and ...
view the full question and answer

Salt-tolerant plants in Central Texas
September 16, 2009 - Do you have any suggestions for salt-tolerant plants in Central Texas? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Stress on Goldenball leadtrees from Austin
June 07, 2014 - I know of two separate instances where young Goldenball Lead Trees (leucena retusa) have shown symptoms of defoliation and a bleeding of white sap from sores that have developed on the bark. The first...
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