Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - February 24, 2012

From: Horseshoe Bay, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native aparejograss and Water-cress at a spring in Horeshoe Bay TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

AT a small spring that seeps from a rocky hill on my ranch near Austin, a stringy grass called aparejograss has replaced the watercress that used to be there. Should I be worried? Does the appearance of this plant mean the spring in trouble?

ANSWER:

Frankly, we had never heard of Muhlenbergia utilis (Aparejograss), but we are familiar with the genus Muhlenbergia. It is a member of the Poaceae (grass) family and grows natively over large parts of the country, including Llano and Burnet Counties. There are several plants with the name "cress" in their common names; one native to North America and Central Texas is  Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania bittercress).

You can follow either plant link to our webpage on the plant to learn it likes moist, woodland areas and part shade. There was not much information on Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania bittercress) but we found an article from Illinois Wildflowers that had pictures. It is a member of the Brassicaceae (mustard) family, some of which can become invasive, but we found no indication that this plant does so.

We did considerable searching on spring protection, but could find no research that showed one or another small plant could be a threat to a spring. We all have heard the stories about trees taking over and shutting down spring flows, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Both plants are annuals and it might be that they will rotate the use of the spring, as weather and rain dictates. If you are truly concerned about the invasiveness of the cress, you could hand pull it or make sure it is not permitted to seed out.

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Grassburs in native lawn in Utopia TX
June 22, 2010 - I recently planted native Texas grass (Buffalograss, blue grama & curly mesquite) at my new house in the hill country. I had to bring in all the top soil. The grass is doing great, but in one area o...
view the full question and answer

When to plant grasses on Long Island, NY
December 06, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; Are there any grass seeds that I can plant NOW, early December, on Long Island, NY? The planting environment is on and near a sandy bluff on a bayshore, where it can be windy ...
view the full question and answer

Need a pretty ground cover to control erosion in Rigdeway, SC.
June 09, 2012 - What is a fast, pretty ground cover blanket to control erosion on steep hill. gets full sun.
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine with native grasses in San Antonio
November 04, 2009 - I am hoping to replace St. Augustine on a sloped yard with native grass. I was wondering where I might get information on the prairie grass seed mats used by the TXDOT highway dept to stop erosion. ...
view the full question and answer

Juncus effusus Twister question
June 07, 2009 - I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I bought a Juncus Effusus,"Twister", and was wondering if it can be brought in the house during winter as a house plant or is it just an annual that will die in ...
view the full question and answer

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