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?


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

Tuesday - February 13, 2007

From: Propsect Park, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Managing Roadsides
Title: Roadside plants as absorbers of carbon dioxide
Answered by: Joe Marcus


If plants absorb carbon dioxide why aren't they on a list of things to do to combat Global Warming? If we had more plants on the sides of our roads and highways would it help?


In the normal cycle of life, plants absorb and store carbon dioxide while growing and release it back into the atmosphere during the decaying process after death. Research has long shown that forests are important "sinks" for carbon dioxide; that is, they store large amounts of the gas due to their large size and long lives. More recent research has indicated that grasslands may also be important carbon dioxide sinks.

Other than in some desert areas, most roadsides are well-populated with plants - primarily grasses - that certainly use and store significant amounts of CO2. The roads themselves and other developed areas are a separate issue, but in general, US roadsides are probably already absorbing about as much CO2 as they can. Large-scale foresting of our roadsides probably wouldn't be a practical solution for reasons ofpublic safety.


More Managing Roadsides Questions

Native plants for roadside in Gallatin TN
February 19, 2012 - What native plant would you suggest that we try to establish on 100 feet of road frontage which gets full afternoon sun? The soil is mostly clay, and it's on a rather sleep hill about 10 feet high. ...
view the full question and answer

Mowing wildflower concerns from Lockhart TX
March 30, 2012 - I went to the Texas Highway Department (Texas Department of Transportation) web site and sent them a concern or complaint about them or independent contractors shredding the roadsides before the blueb...
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for street trees for Texarkana TX
July 23, 2013 - Texarkana, TX, is going to replace a few and add some new street trees downtown. The engineers specified crape myrtle. When I asked if they would consider native trees instead, I was told they thought...
view the full question and answer

Highway construction in wildflower areas from Kingsland TX
April 22, 2014 - I see no other link to contact about this, except for you. Maybe you can direct me. I just drove Hwy 281 South and a lot of road construction is being done. For many years that I've noticed, there ...
view the full question and answer

Non-invasive alternatives to winter rye
August 20, 2004 - Re-vegetation requirements include winter rye, which is considered by some to be invasive to native wildflowers planted along the roadway. Is winter rye considered invasive to native wildflowers?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center