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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 28, 2009

From: Oswego, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Eliminating smartweed from pasture in Oswego NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do I get rid of smartweed in my pasture?

ANSWER:

About 75 species of of plants with "smartweed" in their common names occur in North America. They are mainly identified by their spikes of numerous flowers and encircling leaf sheaths. Both are found in gardens as well as in damp waste places. The seeds of these plants are eaten by songbirds and waterfowl. There are also climbing species of smartweeds. Twenty two members of the Polygonum genus are native to New York, and 12 species with the common name "smartweed" are native to New York. We have selected 3 of these, assuming their management is pretty similar, and will see what we can find out.  In addition (once again, the curse of the common name) there is a dodder, a parasitic plant, that goes by the same common name. Here are the four native plants in our Native Plant Database that we are going to research further; perhaps by following the plant links to the webpage on each plant and by looking at pictures you can determine which one (or more) is causing you the problem. 

Polygonum pensylvanicum (Pennsylvania smartweed) - Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family)

Polygonum erectum (erect knotweed) - Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family) pictures

Polygonum lapathifolium (curlytop knotweed) - Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family)

Cuscuta polygonorum (smartweed dodder) - Cuscutacea (Dodder family) More information on this plant from the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

The first thing we learned is that these are all basically moist soil plants, some are very nearly aquatic plants. One of the suggestons for control was to improve the drainage in the area where they were growing. On the polygonums, since they are mostly annuals, a frequent suggestion was that of clear cutting or pulling while the plants are in early bloom. If you can break the seeding cycle, that will help. However, we also saw research saying the seed of this genus can survive in the soil and remain viable for many years.

Your best resource for help on weedy matters is much closer to home than we are. Contact the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Office for Oswego County. You can bet that if you are having problems with this plant, lots of others in your area are, too, and the people in extension offices are trained to work on that kind of problem.

 


Polygonum pensylvanicum

Polygonum lapathifolium

Cuscuta polygonorum

 


 

 

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Competition between Horseherb and Chickweed
July 04, 2014 - Ok, sorry I did it wrong the 1st time!? I live in Houston, and I have chickens! I also have mass amounts of Horseherb, and I want to buy some chickweed seeds and plant it for my chickens! My question ...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming wisteria in Oklahoma
June 24, 2008 - I have a wisteria bush that doesn't bloom. It's two years old. What should I do?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Royal Empress tree with only green leaves from Chambersburg PA
July 12, 2013 - I have 3 Royal Empress trees in my yard that are between 2-4 yrs old and have never been any color other then big Green leaves. Do you know when they will turn Purple?
view the full question and answer

Can rose Zephirine Drouhin damage brick from Springfield IL
August 22, 2010 - Can Z…PHIRINE DROUHIN damage brick?
view the full question and answer

Dog-proof grass from The Woodlands TX
April 26, 2013 - I am looking for a hardy grass that can tolerate female dogs urine. Zoysia was suggested but I am concerned about it being invasive. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

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