Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support 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
5 ratings

Friday - March 26, 2004

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Smarty Plants Exotic Species
Answered by: Jil M. Swearingen, National Park Service

QUESTION:

What is an Exotic Species?

ANSWER:

An organism is considered exotic (alien, foreign, non-indigenous, non-native) when it has been introduced by humans to a location(s) outside its native or natural range. This designation applies to a species introduced from another continent, another ecosystem, and even another habitat within an ecosystem.

For example, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), a tree that is native to the southern Appalachian region and portions of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, was planted throughout the U.S. for living fences, erosion control, and other uses for many years. Black locust is considered exotic outside its natural native range because it got there by human introduction rather than by natural dispersal. Another example is saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), a wetland plant that is native to eastern North American estuaries. Saltmarsh cordgrass was introduced to western North American shoreline habitats, where it did not occur previously. It has established and become a serious invasive species, displacing native species and adversely impacting wetland communities.

European settlers brought hundreds of plants to North America from their home lands for use as food and medicine, and for ornamental, sentimental, and other purposes. Introductions of exotic plants continue today and are greatly increasing due to a large and ever-expanding human population, increased international travel and trade, and other factors.
 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Replacing non-native invasives with native grasses and wildflowers from Round Rock TX
April 04, 2012 - I have a small piece of property (1.5 AC) East of Austin, Texas that get's overgrown with weedy vegetation (johnson grass, dandelion, and some tall yellow flowering plant that I see all over the medi...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Passionflora Incarnata propagation
March 20, 2012 - Would a cinderblock raised bed, 8 inches in height, be sufficient to contain the roots of passiflora incarnata and keep them from traveling to places where I don't want the vine? Are the roots deepe...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating Arrow Weed from property in Mohave Valley AZ
July 22, 2010 - How do I get rid of Arrowweeds on my property?
view the full question and answer

Controlling invasives and using natives in New Hampshire
October 09, 2007 - What ideas would you have for marrying the subjects of native plants and invasives? This summer I volunteered to work with our town planner and recycling director on a new initiative called SNIP-IT!: ...
view the full question and answer

Native vs. Invasive Experiment
July 01, 2008 - I asked you earlier about my group's experiment on native vs. invasive plants in Valdosta. Here are what we chose to work with..native: spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) and invasive: wild taro (Col...
view the full question and answer

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