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

Thursday - May 16, 2013

From: Lake Jackson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native alternative to Japanese grass from Lake Jackson TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there a native alternative to Little Kitten maiden grass? I was asked to comment on a plan and don't want them to introduce another Japanese plant into our local habitat.

ANSWER:

Before we could answer your question we first had to determine what the non-native grass is to which you refer. Turns out it is Miscanthus sinensis 'Little Kitten' which is, indeed, native to eastern Asia. It is a member of the Poaceae (grass) family, and is referred to as a "blooming grass." What it is not, as you have already pointed out, is native to South Texas, in the area of Brazoria County.

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally, we are anxious to find some natives for you to propose as alternatives. These are all members of the Poaceae family and grow in or near Brazoria County. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its expected mature size, growing conditions, water needs, preferred soil, etc. Since they are native to your area, they are much more likely to do well in your climate, soils and rainfall than grasses from Asia.

Chloris virgata (Feather fingergrass) - 0 - 1 ft. tall

Heteropogon contortus (Tanglehead) - 0 - 1 ft. tall

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) -  3 to 6 ft. tall

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) - 3 to 6 ft. tall

 

From the Image Gallery


Feather fingergrass
Chloris virgata

Tanglehead
Heteropogon contortus

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

More Non-Natives Questions

Thinning and culling wildflower seed mix plants
May 11, 2015 - Wildflower garden in central Oklahoma I sowed a (mostly) native wildflower mixture in early November here in my Zone 7A Edmond, OK garden. To my surprise, many of the seeds (I'm guessing annuals)...
view the full question and answer

Baby in a manger plant from Rock Hill SC
June 28, 2010 - I'm looking for the correct name for baby in a manger(It's a plant.)
view the full question and answer

Non-native Meyer lemon problems in Dripping Springs, TX.
July 02, 2014 - I have a Meyer lemon that looks very sick. The leaves, limbs, and fruit all have brownish gold raised spots that are the size of a pin head. The spots on the leaves seem to run along the center of t...
view the full question and answer

Non-native eleagnus from Jesup GA
January 17, 2014 - An elderly farmer has told me about a plant called Alley Agnes, but I can't find any plant by this name anywhere. He doesn't know another name for it, says it's what everyone has always called it i...
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center