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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

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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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!

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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 Makes an Exotic Species Invasive? (When is a Guest a Pest?)

ANSWER:

Many non-native species exist in apparent harmony in environments where they were introduced. For example, a relatively small number of exotic plants (e.g., corn, wheat, rice, oats) form the basis of our agricultural industry and pose little to no known threat to our natural ecosystems. The most important aspect of an alien plant is how it responds to a new environment. An invasive species is one that displays rapid growth and spread, establishes over large areas, and persists. Invasiveness is characterized by robust vegetative growth, high reproductive rate, abundant seed production, high seed germination rate, and longevity. Some native plants exhibit invasive tendencies in certain situations.
 

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