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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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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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Sunday - December 18, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Invasive Plants, Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Destruction of Straggler Daisy in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I hate Straggler Daisy. Not to be offensive, but it appears from other posts on this site that you, Mr. Smarty Plants, and many others would like to treat it as a protected species. It is taking over my entire property, disregarding my efforts to eradicate it. I am not a natural gardening purist. I will kill the stuff with whatever works, but I've not found anything that works. I applied a heavy application of Roundup. Afterwards it looked a little whimpy, but then recovered. It went through the inferno of last summer (2011) in Austin, TX, and I never watered it - yet it didn't die along with the rest of my lawn. Now that the weather is cooler and wetter in December 2011 the stuff is making a huge resurgence, absolutely taking over my entire property with an army of little tiny Stragglers. Please tell us what toxic mix is required to kill this stuff, Oh Mister Smarty Plants. Respectfully, Straggler Hater.

ANSWER:

We're not offended, we understand what a pain something invasive can be. We hope you also will not be offended when we point out that you have spent a lot of money and a lot of time, and probably killed a lot of other plants you wanted to keep in your chemical war with Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy). And the result of this time, money and destruction effort? Lots of Straggler Daisy. Mr. Smarty Plants is not crazy about any poisonous chemical intervention in nature. When it rained last week, any runoff from your yard was probably tainted with the herbicide, and ran off on other plants, and then down through the Edwards Aquifer into our drinking water. Even if we knew of anything more toxic, we wouldn't suggest it. Please follow the plant link to the full page in our database on this plant. It sounds like a plant well suited to our environment, attracts butterflies, consumes carbon dioxide and produces oxygen in photosynthesis, is a nice semi-evergreen ground cover that flowers from March through November, has low water use, and tolerates sun, part shade or shade. We are certainly not advocating making it a protected species-it doesn't seem to need protection. We think the most telling statement you made was that in the heat and drought of Summer 2011 the Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) marched on and your grass died.

Remembering that it has been estimated that about 40% of Austin's drinkable water goes onto lawns, we think you have lucked into a bonanza. You could eventually get rid of it by pulling it out and keeping it mowed very low to prevent seed distribution, but there would always be more coming from other places in your area. Our advice: if you can't lick it, join it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

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