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
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 Poisonous Plants Questions

Is red tip Photinia toxic to dogs?
September 18, 2012 - Is the red tip bush toxic to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of tree in North Carolina
September 07, 2011 - I live in North Carolina have found a tree on our property that has thorny branches and round fruit (perfectly round) with a fuzzy outer layer that starts out green but then turns yellow. The inside r...
view the full question and answer

Poisonous plant in Ohio with hydrangea-like flower
June 09, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I was sure that I had read that there is a poisonous bush that is native to Ohio that has flowers something like a white hydrangea..or was it queen ann's lace? I believe the ...
view the full question and answer

Food Allergy to Beautyberry or Persimmon?
October 22, 2015 - I think I might have a food allergy to Beautyberry or American Persimmon, eaten Saturday at the North Carolina Great Dismal park. These were the only strange foods recently, though I've had persimmo...
view the full question and answer

Are buckbrush (coralberry) berries poisonous?
December 20, 2011 - Are the berries on buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) poisonous to humans?
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center