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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - September 28, 2013

From: Happy Yard, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Propagation, Pruning, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Sprouts from stems of plants from Happy Yard IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is it normal for a plant to start a sprout from its own root system next to the stock/stem? Is it trying to regrow?

ANSWER:

Very normal, depending on what the plant in question is. It is, in many ways, a function of what plant we are talking about. In most plants, it is a method of propagation, as shoots that survive will continue until they become mature plants, often crowding but not necessarily replacing, the "mother" plant. From the University of Florida Landscape Plants, here is an article on sprouting from roots. Generally speaking, the sprouts are nuisances, in that the mother tree and the sprouts cannot all thrive in such crowded conditions. Here is an article from Fine Gardening on growing new plants from root shoots.

In Texas, our experience is that oaks frequently put out shoots from the roots, as do members of the Rhus (sumac) genus. There are 14 members of that genus native to North America in our Native Plant Database, 4 of which are native to Indiana. They are:

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac)

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac)

Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac)

If you follow those links to our webpage on each plant, you will often see the descriptions "sprawling," "clumping" and "colonies" meaning that many plants have sprouted from the same root system. Some oaks, especially live oaks, form what we call "mottes" which are groups of oaks that have, again, emerged from the same root.

Obviously, sumac and oaks are not the only woody plants that sprout from offshoots of the same tree root, just examples with which we are familiar. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants  answer on sprouts in oak mottes. This is in case your next question was "How do I get rid of those sprouts; give me the name of a poison that will kill the sprouts  but not hurt the parent plant?" Follow any links in that question to others on the same subject.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

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