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The communications office of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin provides media with timely, accurate information about the Wildflower Center. Below are recent press releases related to Center events and to staff expertise on conservation practices, native plant gardening, nature education, and native plant resources and research findings. For more information or photos beyond those on the newsroom site, please contact:

    Media Manager
Barbra Rodriguez

April 5, 2007

2007 Wildflower Forecast #2 - The Battle between Wildflowers and Invasive Plants

AUSTIN, Texas- Wildflowers have had an impressive start this season. However, the same conditions that are beneficial to them can also promote invasive species. Along Austin's roadsides Rapistrum rugosum, an invasive, is competing for space among the native wildflowers.

Invasive species are plants defined as non-native or alien to the local ecosystem the introduction of which is likely to or does cause economic or environmental harm.

"Recently, many of our visitors at the Wildflower Center have asked about the plants bearing clusters of small, showy yellow flowers at their tips forming dense stands along some major Austin highways, Loop 1, I-35, Highway 290 and beyond," said Dr. Damon Waitt, senior botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. "Unfortunately, the plant that you are seeing is not one our beloved Texas wildflowers, but Rapistrum rugosum."

Also known as turnip-weed, common giant mustard, ball mustard or annual bastard-cabbage, its seeds germinate in late fall or early winter and quickly cover the ground with a blanket of leafy rosettes that can block sunlight from reaching seeds and seedlings of bluebonnets and other native wildflowers. Mature plants can reach 5 feet or more in height. Plants can bloom as early as January and continue blooming into summer. "Annual bastard-cabbage grows mostly in open sites on disturbed soils," Waitt said. "In some places, it forms a monoculture-a vegetative cover of mostly one species-that takes over the area. Manual removal of the plant and its taproot, and disposal of seeds, is an effective way to manage bastard-cabbage." In addition, research at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center suggests that over seeding infested areas in late fall with Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) can act as a control. To learn more about preventing the spread of invasives and protecting native wildflowers and other native plants visit www.beplantwise.org or www.wildflower.org.

Photos available upon request.

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