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

Friday - June 07, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Why aren't the Caesalpinia species in the Native Plant Database
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Why doesn't the Wildflower Center list Caesalpinia in its plant database? I grow 3 species in my garden with no coddling: C. mexicana, C. gilliesii, and C. pulcherrima. I understand that the latter 2 qualify as exotic to Texas, although they grow well in Austin, tolerate heat and drought, provide nectar to pollinators, and do not spread aggressively. However, C. mexicana should qualify as a Texas native. It has proven root hardy in Austin since 2000 -- including some devastating freezes. It seems worthy of mention in your database.

ANSWER:

The question of nativity is one that is often posed to Mr. Smarty Plants.  We receive questions about specific plants and also the more general question of how "native" is defined.  For the second question, our definition is a plant is native to an area that evolved or arrived in that area without the assistance of man. 

This issue is very important to us since, by institutional policy, our research is limited to those plant species native to North America north of Mexico.  Plant species that are native to Mexico but nowhere in the United States are not included in our research and thus, not in the Native Plant Database

The Caesalpinia species are certainly beautiful plants and some do very well in the Austin area.  Caesalpinia pulcherrima is native to the West Indies and tropical America.  Caesalpinia gilliesii is native to South America.  Caesalpinia mexicana is native to Mexico and according to a some references also occurs naturally in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  If that were the case, Caesalpinia mexicana would qualify for inclusion in our database.

Caesalpinia mexicana is common in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in landscapes.  However, after consulting with botanists who are intimately familiar with the native flora of south Texas, we believe that C. mexicana is not a natural constituent of that flora.  If we find compelling evidence to the contrary sometime in the future, we will happily add that species to our lists of native species.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Japanese maple in San Antonio
November 28, 2010 - I want to plant a Shaina Japanese maple in San Antonio, how do I plant it? I want to plant it near the house near the front door. The tree will be blocked by the house so it does not get too much af...
view the full question and answer

Salvia that needs dividing in Maryville MO
April 09, 2010 - I have some May Night salvia that is 3 years old. Last summer it split in the middle and spent a lot of the summer laid open. I'm wondering if it needs to be split or pruned in some way?
view the full question and answer

New house plant in pot in Chevy Chase MD
May 07, 2010 - Is it possible for one house plant to eventually die in the pot while a completely different plant grows in its place? The new plant looks similar to the potted plant next to it but it is not quite t...
view the full question and answer

Can lantana be grown in British Columbia from Vernon BC
October 20, 2012 - Can I grow lantana in Vernon B.C. Canada?
view the full question and answer

Plants for under non-native fruitless mullberry trees from Ft. Worth TX
June 28, 2012 - I live in Tarrant county, where summer droughts are the norm. I have a 150x50 foot swathe of mature "fruitless mulberry" trees, which create a very shady atmosphere. The soil is clay dominated, ro...
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