Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Sunday - October 02, 2011

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Groundcovers
Title: Invasive non-native mulberry and groundcover in Jacksonville FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Northeast Florida (Jacksonville) inland. My mulberry tree provides dense shade in the summer and filtered light the other seasons, leaving sand in its growing area. What fast growing ground cover would take and survive under these conditions? Thanks!

ANSWER:

You did not say which mulberry you have. It could be Broussenetia papynifera, Paper Mulberry, which is native to China, or Morus rubra (Red Mulberry), native to the Eastern United States, but frequently hybridized with Morus alba, White Mulberry, also native to China.

Can we first talk about the Broussenetia papynifera, paper mulberry? In a word, we don't like it. It has become very invasive, spread by both birds and root sprouts, and both the seed dropping from birds and the berries themselves will stain any surface they land on. From the Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group, read this article on Paper Mulberry. They don't like it, either, putting it on their "Least Wanted" list.  University of Florida Extension Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants has information on the Paper Mulberry, and how invasive it is in Florida. Even if Broussenetia papynifera is not the precise species you have, most are non-native and invasive.

Quite aside from all that, we are not surprised you are having difficulty growing anything under that tree. The dense shade, berry drop and close to the surface invasive roots are not hospitable to any kind of competitive growth. As the seed and fruit drop and begin to develop new plants the competition will get even worse. Even our frequent suggestion of putting a good quality mulch on the under-tree area doesn't seem very practical. The thought of the berries and bird droppings combined with the mulch is not appealing.

Having expressed our opinion, we suggest you go to our Native Plant Database, select Florida, "Herb" (herbaceous blooming plant), part shade and shade and desired height, suggested 0 to 1 ft. We will give you a list of possible candidates, but remember, we absolutely do not guarantee that any of them will grow under your tree.

Groundcovers for shade in Florida:

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and gold)

Glandularia canadensis (Rose vervain)

Hexastylis arifolia (Littlebrownjug)

Hydrocotyle umbellata (Manyflower marshpennywort)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Little brown jug
Hexastylis arifolia

Rose vervain
Glandularia canadensis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum

Manyflower marsh-pennywort
Hydrocotyle umbellata

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Poconos in Pennsylvania
March 09, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am having a problem growing grass. I live in the Pocono mtns of Pa. my soil is not typical for this area. I have very sandy soil, probably poor quality. grass will not grow. I...
view the full question and answer

Non-invasive sun ground cover for Atlanta GA
June 29, 2011 - I would like to find a non-invasive ground cover for zone 7 (Atlanta, GA) in full sun. I had a bed of ivy with daylilies on a slight slope. I have pulled up the ivy but want something that is not as i...
view the full question and answer

Native, low maintenance lawn for Rowley MA
September 11, 2013 - I am in Northeastern (coastal) Massachusetts and I am looking to replace my (currently high maintenance, water intensive, invasive species) lawn with a native, low maintenance species (or mix). Many o...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
view the full question and answer

Native, full-sun, 4-in. evergreen grasses for Leander TX
November 07, 2011 - Help! I need a native Texas evergreen sedge/grass/ground cover for full-sun/hot/dry area between sidewalk and street. The plants will need to be kept about 4" high, if growth is higher it must be mow...
view the full question and answer

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