En Español

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?


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


What is an Exotic Species?


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

Is Yaupon Invasive in the Austin Area?
March 24, 2011 - Is Yaupon Holly invasive in the Austin area? Should we be removing it from our yards and/or greenbelt spaces? Thanks for your input!
view the full question and answer

Eliminating smartweed from pasture in Oswego NY
August 28, 2009 - How do I get rid of smartweed in my pasture?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on vitex
May 12, 2005 - I recently purchased a vitex tree and I don't know anything about it other that it blooms. Can you tell me everything there is about this tree?
view the full question and answer

Is Jerusalem thorn native to Central Texas?
July 17, 2009 - I was reading about Retama (Parkinsonia aculeata) which is native to South America and naturalized throughout Texas and the southern US. I also read that it is considered an invasive plant species in...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating ragweed in Sacramento CA
May 16, 2012 - Rag weed. How to be rid of it! My wife and lots of others that live in this part of Sacramento suffer greatly.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center