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

Saturday - March 30, 2013

From: Clarkridge, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Edible Plants, Trees
Title: Will corn fall victim to allelopathy from hackberry in Clarkridge AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will my corn be inhibited by a nearby hackberry and if so would it help to cut it down? I understand that sometimes the soil is full of the chemicals the tree produces.

ANSWER:

What you are probably referring to is allelopathy, which is the production of chemicals in some plants that inhibit growth in competing plants nearby. This article from Cornell University includes this statement:

"One of the most famous allelopathic plants is Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).  The chemical responsible for the toxicity in Black Walnut is Juglone (5 hydroxy-1,4 napthoquinone) and is a respiration inhibitor.  Solanaceous plants, such as tomato, pepper, and eggplant, are especially susceptible to Juglone.  These plants, when exposed to the allelotoxin, exhibit symptoms such as wilting, chlorosis (foliar yellowing), and eventually death.  Other plants may also exhibit varying degrees of susceptibility and some have no noticeable effects at all.  Some plants that have been observed to be tolerant of Juglone include lima bean, beets, carrot, corn, cherry, black raspberry, catalpa, Virginia creeper, violets, and many others."

Black walnut isn't the only tree that produces juglone. This chemical is also secreted in smaller amounts by English walnut, hickory and pecan trees.Other trees with allelopathic properties include tree-of-heaven, sugar maple, hackberry, American sycamore, American elm, southern wax myrtle, cottonwood, black cherry, sassafras, red oak and black locust.

So, we know about Black Walnut not being a threat to your corn, now to find out if Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry), which is a member of the Ulmaceae (elm) family, could exibit allelopathy. We found this list of pests in corn:

Frankly, we think any of them would be worse than a nearby hackberry. Since the center of origin of  Zea mays (corn) is believed to be native to Mexico or Central America, we don't know  too much about it. If your (native) hackberry is shading the corn, you might want to think about it, but otherwise, we feel the corn is safe.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sugar hackberry
Celtis laevigata

More Edible Plants Questions

Smarty Plants wild sweet pea
July 28, 2005 - We were asked if the seed pods of the wild sweet pea are edible. (California)
view the full question and answer

Edibility of peppervine berries from Madison MS
February 09, 2012 - I am following up on a question I've posed to many well experienced foragers and naturalists regarding the pepper vine plant or Ampelopsis arbor. There are many conflicting stories regarding the edib...
view the full question and answer

List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area
September 15, 2011 - Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants that grew here before cultivation, eradication or...
view the full question and answer

Can I make my large pecan trees produce larger nuts?
November 14, 2013 - I have 2 older large pecan trees about 40' tall but the nuts are very small, only about 1 1/2". What can I do to get larger nuts?
view the full question and answer

Huckleberries and blueberries from Vancouver WA
April 14, 2013 - Can you plant a blueberry next to a huckleberry?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center