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
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 Non-Natives Questions

Red poppies to bloom in November from Round Rock TX
June 08, 2014 - Hi, I want to plant poppy seed so that they bloom in November for Veterans and Remembrance Day. Can you offer any guidance? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Consumption of carbon dioxide from South Korea
December 07, 2011 - I am curious about what flowers consume CO2 for growing (especially 1-year life flower). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant non-native Crape Myrtle in Fulshear TX
July 01, 2010 - When are the best times to plant Crape Myrtles? My husband and I have just moved to Fulshear, TX (just slightly west of Houston) and being summer, I didn't think this was the best planting period. ...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Buddha Belly bamboos
November 08, 2014 - I have several budha belly bamboos. They froze down last winter. I have got them back to 5 ft. I need them around 8-10 for privacy. Any suggestions? Also how to I protect them this winter?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a nursing home resident from LaQuinta CA
July 26, 2013 - I take care of an elderly woman with dementia. She is in a nursing home and she's always LOVES flowers and plants. Do you have any suggestions for potted outdoor blooming plants for the summer in...
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