Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

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

Non-native zoysia and bermuda grasses in Austin
July 11, 2013 - We have Bermuda grass in the front and Zoysia in the back yards. The back grass is fine but the front yard Bermuda isn't. We have watered once each week during the spring and during the past 3 weeks...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on invasive and exotic plant species
March 26, 2004 - Where can I go to learn more about invasive and exotic plant species?
view the full question and answer

Removal of mature agaves
November 20, 2007 - Hello- we live in Austin, TX and have a bed of different varieties of agave. They are near the walkway to our house, and are so out of control they pose a hazard to our guests walking up to the house...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of non-native Senna bicapsularis from Ocean Springs MS
April 04, 2013 - I have 4 Senna plants (cassia bicapsularis) that I planted late last spring. They about 3-4 feet tall but are very gangly with leaves at or near the tips only. How should I prune them to encourage g...
view the full question and answer

Controlling non-native Pennisetum frutescens (Naked fountain grass)
December 07, 2014 - Three years ago I bought a pennisetum frutescans grass from a reputable online nursery. It gets no supplemental water, but it is taking over my yard. It is almost 7 feet wide now. Can you tell me how ...
view the full question and answer

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