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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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Wednesday - September 17, 2014

From: Bartlett, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Is mulch from hackberry and chinaberry trees safe for flowerbeds?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We had to remove several large hackberry and china berry trees. Is its mulch safe to use in garden and in flower beds?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants does NOT recommend mulching with either Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry) or Melia azedarach (Chinaberry).  Both are considered to be allelopathic—i.e., they release chemicals through their litter and their roots that inhibit the growth of other plant species. You can read the answer to a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question about hackberry allelopathy.  Not only is chinaberry allelopathic it is also a seriously invasive species from Asia. Its fruit is poisonous to humans and other mammals and it is allelopathic with leaves and roots that release chemical compounds that inhibit the germination and growth of other plants by raising the pH of the soils.  See the answer to a previous question about chinaberry allelopathy.

 

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