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

Monday - July 08, 2013

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants
Title: Identification of a plant with winged stems in Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, We live in Denton Texas & our backyard is being taken over by a very woody type weed or bush. The most distinguishing characteristic is that long thin vertical ridges or fins grow along the branches. This plant spreads like wildfire & completely took over one side of our yard & I'm afraid we will have no yard left soon. It doesn't pull out of the ground like most weeks, has no seeds or berries, just skinny flat leaves & grows to about 3 feet tall. Thx! We want to figure out how to prevent it from being in our yard at all.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac).  They have winged stems, grow quickly and often form colonies from a single plant with a tap root that has rhizomes that produce sucker plants, making a clone of plants.  Here are more photos and information from Illinois Wildflowers and University of Florida Lee County Extension.

The fact that your plants may be all connected is going to make them a bit more difficult to eradicate.  To be rid of them you will need to dig them up.  To help you get rid of them, you can carefully treat the broken or cut remaining roots with herbicide by painting the surface of the cut using a small foam paint brush.  If you do use herbicide, be sure you read and follow the safety instructions on the label and be careful not get any of the herbicide on plants you want to keep.

For another possibility, there is an Asian plant, Euonymus alatus (winged burning bush), that is considered invasive over much of eastern North America.  The Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States shows that it has been reported in southern Oklahoma, but not in Texas.

And here are photos of other plants with winged stems from the Native & Naturalized Native Plants of the Carolinas & Georgia website.

By the way, it's Smarty Plants (not Pants)!

 

From the Image Gallery


Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

More Problem Plants Questions

Killing oak sprouts from El Paso TX
August 16, 2011 - I want to know how to kill oak root sprouts and seedlings. Very dense and out-of-control in huge area of front lawn. I had tree cut down and I still cannot get rid of them. They're only getting wors...
view the full question and answer

Can fibrous roots of Chasmanthium latifolium damage house foundation
May 03, 2013 - Dear Mr.Ms. S-P, Can the fibrous roots of inland sea oats cause foundation problems? I was digging around my foundation and found a root about 1" in diameter that I am afraid might be from sea oa...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant grass for small lawn from Woodbury TX
June 07, 2014 - Trying to establish small lawn area, needs to be drought tolerant, water wise. Have tried Turffalo with poor results. Recommendation please.
view the full question and answer

What is the orange vine that is covering the wildflowers from Llano, TX?
April 10, 2012 - What is the invasive orange vine that is covering the wildflowers on Texas highways?
view the full question and answer

Live oaks lifting up sidewalks in Palm Coast FL
December 12, 2013 - My live oak trees roots are lifting up my side walks. Can I cut just the roots that are causing the problem without hurting the trees? Thank you.
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