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?


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
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


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.


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

Heteropogon contortus

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native, invasive creeping fig in Webster TX
May 26, 2013 - We've recently moved into a new home in the southeast Houston area. The back of our property has a long concrete wall (gets quite a bit of sun), which we thought we could cover with a spreading vine....
view the full question and answer

Invasiveness of Cosmos from Decatur GA
April 26, 2013 - I have been searching for an answer concerning the invasive plant Cosmos. I know that Florida declares this but I have not been able to find out does Georgia? And specifically,is it only the yellow Co...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of transporting native seeds to Europe
February 03, 2011 - Hi, Is it possible to bring seeds for North American plants and wildflowers from the USA to Europe? I live in Italy and have many Italian friends who want me to bring seeds from America the next time ...
view the full question and answer

Keeping non-native invasive bermudagrass out of yard in Austin
May 30, 2012 - My neighbor just sodded a huge lawn with Bermuda Celebration. I don't want it coming into my St. Augustine. From what I've read on your site and others, I need a deep barrier. Has anyone tried pu...
view the full question and answer

Pruning and deadheading rosa rugosa while blooming
August 01, 2008 - Can you prune the dead flowers and branches of rosa rogosa while it is still blooming?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center