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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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Thursday - May 14, 2009

From: Sierra Vista, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Why is Asphodelus fistulosus (onionweed) forbidden by property owners assoications?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Our local property owners association is imploring us to remove all onionweed (Asphodelus fistulosus L.). The USDA lists it as a noxious weed. Why? I think it is pretty and flowery. Is it poisonous, hallucinogenic, or what? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Asphodelus fistulosus (onionweed) is an invasive, non-native from southern Europe, Mediterranean Africa and western Asia.  On the webpage for the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health you can find links to several noxious plant lists on which it appears.  It is very aggressive in propagating itself and has few, if any, predators since it is unpalatable to cattle and most wildlife.  You can read more about its status in Arizona from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Invaders of the Sonora Desert Region page.  The Tonto National Forest in Arizona also has a page devoted to the onionweed.  Mr. Smarty Plants says "thanks" to the local property owners association for helping to protect the environment from this aggressively invasive non-native plant.
 

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