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
3 ratings

Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: El Paso, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Landscaping a new yard in El Paso, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am starting my back yard, we want to plant some sod grass and shade trees. We were doing some research and came across the Paulownia and the Royal Empress tree. I like them since they grow very fast; are they recommended to grow in El Paso, TX? What is the type of grass that is good for El Paso? We were thinking of Bermuda grass.

ANSWER:

No, they are definitely not recommended for El Paso, or anywhere in North America, for that matter. 

The Paulownia tomentosa, Princess Tree, is native to western and central China. The tree known as the Royal Empress Tree is the same tree. This site from the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group LEAST WANTED will tell you why we wouldn't like it if it WAS native. And it would not be recommended for El Paso, even then.

On to Cynadon dactylon, bermudagrass. Guess what? We don't like it, either. It is native to Africa (not Bermuda) and has become one of the most invasive weeds in the South. See this University of California  Integrated Pest Management article on how to get rid of it.

As is the case with most non-native invasive plants, the best way to get rid of this tree and this grass is to never plant them. Remember, you were warned! 

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. If you wish, we will be happy to recommend some trees and grasses native to El Paso County, TX that are adapted by millennia of experience to the soils, climate and and water availability of your area. 

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Clearing out non-native Himalayan blackberry
January 25, 2009 - Can you recommend a way to clear an area of Himalayan blackberry? We have cut the canes back but wish to eliminate them completely so that we can replant that area with native plants attractive to wil...
view the full question and answer

Non-native wedelia and dayflower in Lihue HI
September 03, 2009 - I have wedelia as ground covering, day flower or commelinaceae takes over. What can I use or spray to rid myself of the day flower problem?
view the full question and answer

Problem with non-native Shasta daisies
July 10, 2014 - Our Shasta Daisy has bloomed quite prolifically this year. I don't know what to do with the spent blooms/stalks. Do I trim them down, save the seeds, plant the seeds? Any help is appreciated. Thank y...
view the full question and answer

How Can I Tell an Invasive Thistle from a Native
May 01, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants, I have some thistles coming up in my yard. I'd like to keep them if they are native, but not if they are invasive or non-native. How can I tell? My yard is a wild area in West Lak...
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
view the full question and answer

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