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
2 ratings

Wednesday - September 29, 2010

From: LaRue, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflower Center
Title: Why is Hamelia patens, a species listed as invasive, in the Wildflower Center database?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hamelia patens (Firebush) is listed as an invasive plant at Invasive.Org, the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, which partners with the US Forest Service, Univ of GA and others. LBJ website has listed it as Native. Please help clear this up for me and others.

ANSWER:

The terms 'native' and 'invasive' aren't mutually exclusive.  Even though the majority of the plants on the Invasive and Exotic Plants list of the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health are, indeed, non-native exotics—such as Ligustrum japonicum (Japanese honeysuckle) and Melia azedarach (chinaberry)—there are a number of natives on the list as well.  For example, the native Toxicodendron radicans (Eastern poison ivy) is on the list and certainly almost everyone considers it an invasive, unwelcome plant.  The surprising ones are ones that we consider attractive such as Hamelia patens (Firebush), a native North American plant—native to Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  You can see a distribution map on the USDA Plants Database.  Surprisingly, the source responsible for it being on the list is Florida Keys Invasive Species Task Force.  Another attractive native on the list is Iris missouriensis (Rocky mountain iris) and the source for it is the California Noxious Weeds list. 

I don't know the exact reasons that Hamelia patens and Iris missouriensis are considered invasive by the two listing agencies.  Some plants are considered invasive because they interfere with agricultural crops; but I suspect for these two it is probably because they are growing and spreading prolifically to the detriment of other native plants in the areas.

The short answer to your question, however, is that, for whatever reason, a native plant can be listed as invasive or noxious along with non-native exotics.

 

More Wildflower Center Questions

Flowers at the Wildflower Center
September 09, 2010 - What common wildflowers are in the Wildflower Center?
view the full question and answer

Source for Signs at the Wildflower Center
January 24, 2011 - Hello. Where can we buy the black, metallic plant identification tags used at the Wildflower Center? Thanks in advance.
view the full question and answer

Souce for Glass Mulch in Austin
September 02, 2015 - Is there a special reason that broken glass is used in the courtyard flower beds? It's beautiful, wondering where to purchase some.
view the full question and answer

Information on green roof demonstration site at Wildflower Center
March 10, 2006 - I visited your green roof demonstration site and am interested in putting a green roof on a structure. There seemed to be at least two layers of growing medium in the planters; one layer looked like r...
view the full question and answer

Purchase access to plants at Wildflower Center
February 08, 2007 - I am interested in purchasing some of your plants. How can I do that? Do you send plants thru the mail or is their a nursery near you that has access to your plants that does? I am interested in Sa...
view the full question and answer

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