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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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Thursday - February 02, 2012

From: Waller, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Invasive, non-native Siberian peashrub for waller TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Good Morning Mr. Smarty Plants! I am trying to find out if the Siberian Pea Shrub is a good plant for Southeast Texas or if it is considered an invasive no no. It seems to have many qualities for wildlife, like hummingbirds and bees, but we don't want to do the wrong thing. We are in rural prairie area, zone 8b. Not finding it on the invasive list, although I have read on other sites that it can be invasive. Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

The first thing we want to say is that Caragana arborescens, Siberian peashrub, is native to (where else?) Siberia and Manchuria, very cold areas of Russia and China. The second thing we would like to know (rhetorically speaking) is are local nurseries offering this plant for sale? According to the USDA Plant profile for this plant, it grows nowhere in Texas, but instead in colder areas of the country, where it is quite capable of becoming invasive.

See these two articles for  discussions of invasiveness, where they will grow and what their physical characteristics are:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Alberta (Canada) Invasive Plants

Also, here are two negative comments from Dave's Garden, a forum:

"I'm interested to see that this plant is considered invasive in Alaska. When we bought this house in 1999, the previous owners had just planted a long line of them along the drive. They were approximately 2 ft. tall then, and they're about 8 ft. tall now.

They are self-sowing: The seed pods burst and fling the seed as far as several feet away, and we now have new plants across the driveway and in the yard.

They're also thorny, which makes pruning no fun.

They are good as screens and windbreaks, and the birds really seem to like them as cover, but because of the overabundance of upstarts (and now this notice that it's a nuisance plant), I wouldn't recommend it."

 

"This plant is considered invasive in many areas, especially northern regions, as it escapes cultivation and has the potential to widely spread in previously pristine natural areas. I work for the Forest Service in Alaska as an Ecologist in our Seward office, and this plant is being included in an upcoming multi-agency invasive plants book for Alaska, with the recommendation that it not be purchased, planted, traded, or grown."

 

So, here's the thing. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, promotes the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. IF you could obtain it at all, and planted it in Waller County, which is USDA Hardiness Zone 9b, it would probably explode from the heat about the first of May. So you don't need to worry about it being invasive. However, you do need to consider the expenditure of resources like purchasing, planting, back muscles and watering a plant that cannot succeed in your area. Which is what we are all about here-use native plants because they are already adapted to where you are gardening.

Pictures

 

 

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