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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - February 11, 2011

From: Pisgah Forest, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: Use of native non-vascular plants from Pisgah Forest NC
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Some of the smartest native plants around to use as horticultural choices don't require any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides; tolerate extreme weather including freezing temps; and provide year-round green -- our indigenous bryophytes -- mosses, liverworts and hornworts. The environmental benefits of bryophytes include elimination of ground water contamination and reduction of air pollution. Yet, mosses and their cousins are often overlooked, ignored or forgotten when making decisions about native plants for sustainable landscapes, green roofs or lawns. Are you aware of any horticultural research that examines the benefits of moss versus grass lawns or that focuses on specific bryophytes appropriate for a range of environmental applications and solutions?

ANSWER:

We can't disagree with you at all!  Bryophytes are fascinating and immensely important constituents of all healthy terrestrial ecosystems.  We have given considerable thought to including mosses, liverworts, hornworts, lichens, fungi, algae and other non-vascular plants or plant-like organisms in our research and outreach.  But, while we are not ruling out that possibility for the future, we believe that the study of the vascular, seed-bearing plants of North America provides more than enough work for us to do and is true to the "wildflower" in our institution's name and mission.

Since we do not study bryophytes, we have no knowledge of existing horticultural research involving them.  However, we're confident that if any has been done, most such research can be easily found by doing some simple Internet searches.

 

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