Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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
2 ratings

Friday - June 27, 2008

From: Valdosta, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Native vs. invasive photosynthesis and CO2 exchange.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

My group is conducting an experiment on invasive and native plants in Valdosta, Georgia. Are invasive plant species better adapted to live in Valdosta than native plant species? How do invasive species react to hypertonic carbon dioxide levels in their environment as opposed to native plant species? Is there any experiment recommendation you can suggest for us to work on? In other words, we would like to compare the photosynthesis rates of the 2 plants species to see which is better adapted.

ANSWER:

Your questions, while interesting, are too general to be plainly answered.  Native plant species are always well-adapted to the ecological niche in which they naturally evolved and grow.  Valdosta, being a medium-sized city, has many, many ecological niches -  both natural and man-made - which may or may not be well-suited for one native plant species or for a specific invasive species.  

Perhaps an example will help.  You are likely to find healthy populations of the native species, Cyperus retrorsus in the pine woodlands around Valdosta, but are very unlikely to find it on disturbed sites along roadways, streets and in residential gardens in the area.  On the other hand, the invasive weed, Cyperus rotundus is likely to appear in any disturbed soils locally, but is very unlikely to appear in well-established pine forests and will not compete well with C. retrorsus if it does.

How any plant reacts to carbon dioxide levels, hypertonic or otherwise, depends on many factors, but strictly speaking, the species' nativity is not among those factors.  Soil constituents and conditions, water and nutrient availability, sun conditions, neighboring and competing plants, plant health and the individual plant species' genetics will all play a role in that plant's reaction to the levels of CO2 and other atmospheric gas fractions.

You will probably want to give more thought to the design of your experiment before proceeding.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Problems with non-native, invasive Japanese Privet from Peoria AZ
July 31, 2013 - I have Japanese Privit bushes. one out of 6 has started to grow very small leaves and does not look healthy. Moon Valley told me shortage of zinc, but that has not helped in 3 months. What can I ...
view the full question and answer

Removing three-seeded mercury in Austin
November 09, 2009 - How can I get rid of Three Seeded Mercury (Acalypha phleoides)? Even if I try to dig it up, the roots go down forever and it ends up just breaking at 6-8" down. Just breaking it off at the surface,...
view the full question and answer

Blackeyed Susans becoming invasive in Fredericksburg VA
August 10, 2009 - Are the roots of the Blackeyed Susan (BES) invasive enough to actually destroy bulbs. BES have moved into a bed exactly where my oriental lilies were..this year the whole row of red lilies (which had...
view the full question and answer

Prairie remnant threatened by non-native Queen Anne's lace in Dallas
June 09, 2010 - A blackland prairie remnant is being invaded by Queen Ann's Lace. What are the best, least chemical, methods of getting rid of it without damaging the native grasses and wildflowers? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Identification of invasive plant
March 26, 2010 - I have found an invasive plant species in Martindale, Texas that I would like to identify for family members. It is taking over their pasture and is difficult to eliminate. It has not bloomed yet but...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.