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
1 rating

Sunday - July 14, 2013

From: Spring, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Is blue porterweed native to North America from Spring TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently purchased a blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) plant from the native plant section of one of our local nurseries. I was surprised when I didn't find it on your list of native plants. Many Google searches show it as a native, while others show it to be an Asian exotic.

ANSWER:

You are correct, our ultimate source for determining nativity is the USDA, and this USDA Plant Profile Map shows Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) as native to the lower 48 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands but introduced in Hawaii. This can be attributed to many things, but mostly to the fact that our Native Plant Database is alway a work in progress. We are much more embarrassed when we learn that we have listed a non-native as native than we are when it is the other way around, but still, we appreciate your bringing it to our attention.

The USDA source listed above shows it native to Alabama and Florida, so we are a little curious as to why it was being sold as a native plant in a nursery near Houston. Our whole point in advocating native plants is that there are many multiples of different growing conditions in North America - soils, temperatures, rainfall, even the length of daylight. When we answer a question about a specific plant, we always first check to see where that plant evolved and grows naturally, in order to warn our visitor if we don't think it can survive where they are gardening. 

To that end, we will do a little research on the Internet and you can read some of the information we find to determine if you can expect it to do well in Harris Co., TX.

A lot of user comments from the forum Dave's Garden on this plant. Natives for your neighborhood, a conservation website for south Florida. The Leon Levy Native Plant Database -  oops, that's from the Bahamas. "Native" is in the eye of the beholder.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Failure to bloom of tropical plumeria
July 04, 2008 - I have had my plumeria for the past five years. The first three years it bloomed but has not the past two. The plant is healthy and continues to grow but will not flower. It seems to be very health...
view the full question and answer

How to use seaweed for mulch and fertilizer
September 24, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants,I live on the Peconic Bay, Greenport, Long Island. We have an oyster farm and lots of seaweed. I've read that seaweed was used on farms in the past as mulch (fertilizer?). ...
view the full question and answer

Indian paintbrush wedding
October 20, 2004 - I live in western Montana and have become quite fond of the flower known as indian paintbrush. I will be getting married this next July, and would like to incorporate the flower into my wedding; Howe...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
view the full question and answer

Source for air plant from Warwick RI
April 23, 2012 - Would you know of any store in Rhode Island that would sell the air plant (tillandsia plant)? I've been searching around and no luck! I would appreciate the help!! Thank you and take care
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