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

Thursday - July 04, 2013

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants
Title: Is Sucissa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious) allelopathic?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pointed me to you. Can you comment on Devil's Bit Scabious? A neighbor pointed out these volunteer plants in my yard and wants me to kill them. He called them Devil's Bit and claimed that the roots spread poison to kill surrounding plants. These are tall lanky plants with small roundish lavender multi-floret flowers. My research indicates these are beneficial plants and the name is derived from the folklore that the Devil bit its roots out of jealousy and wanted to curb these beneficial plants. Most of the web pages I found are UK in origin. Thank you!

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants is part of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center whose mission is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."  Native, in this case, means native to North America.  Second of all, Succisa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious), is native to Europe (including UK) and NOT native to North America and not really in our purview.  It is sold as a garden plant in North America and the ones in your yard are someone's garden escapees.  I searched the internet using the terms "Succisa pratensis allelopathic" and I could find no evidence that the plant is allelopathic (i.e., kills or inhibits the growth of other plants growing near it).   Emorsgate Seeds in Great Britain concurs with your statement about the origin of the plant's common name.  They say:  "Devil's-bit scabious is so named because its roots end abruptly as though bitten off by the devil."

 

More Non-Natives Questions

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

Selective herbicide for non-native bermudagrass from Venice FL
December 02, 2010 - Is there a selective herbicide that can be used for grasses like Floratam and Bermuda along with various weeds that will not damage Wedelia?
view the full question and answer

Identity of rubbery-looking tree with long green thorns
March 21, 2012 - I am trying to identify a tree that has a green rubbery look with long, sharp, green thorns. This tree is on my property in Conroe, TX and the soil type is Gladwater clay frequently flooded.
view the full question and answer

Request for native grasses from Hillsboro TX
August 04, 2012 - P.S. I forgot to mention one very important fact: my neighbor specifically asked for "native grass" recommendations. He thought he was getting a native grass recommendation.
view the full question and answer

Competition for sun between non-native loquat and Carolina laurel cherry in San Antonio
October 27, 2010 - I have planted 2 Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry)along my north side fence. I just learned my neighbor has planted a Loquat tree on the other side of the north facing fence. He told me that...
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