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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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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!

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Friday - September 27, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Distribution vs. Native Distribution in NPIN?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I'm a Habitat Steward in Austin and conducting a native plant swap tomorrow, 9/28/13. I need to be able to tell people who come whether their plant is native or not. I want to use your smart phone app to look up that info. Problem: I don't know how to interpret this: DISTRIBUTION USA: AR , MO , OK , TX Native Distribution: S.c. MO & n.c. AR Is this plant not an acceptable plant if TX is not in the "Native Distribution" list? I want to also accept naturalized plants that aren't invasive. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

In NPIN, "Distribution" is defined as the area where a given species is known to occur in North America.  "Native Distribution is defined as the area where that species is known to be native in North America.  In the example you gave, the plant is not known to be native in Texas, Oklahoma and in other areas outside of south-central Missouri and north-central Arkansas.

As a matter of policy, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not collect for display in its gardens any plant species that are not native to Texas and goes one step further to collect only those individual plants that have a proven native provenance in Texas.

So the unnamed plant in question would not fit either of our criteria for display in our gardens.  If you use naturalized (non-invasive) species, the plant you're researching might fit your criteria.

 

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