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

Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
view the full question and answer

Central Texas native plants good for cut flowers in Austin
March 15, 2010 - What are the best native plants to Central Texas that can be used as cut flowers for indoors in the home? I have a large garden that will be partly vegetables, partly for cut flowers. Thank you for ...
view the full question and answer

Wildlife and bird friendly hedgerow for Chicago suburb
November 30, 2013 - Want to plant a wildlife/bird friendly hedgerow in suburban Chicago. Looking for a recommended mix of understory trees as well a shrubs and grasses. Site is part shade with average to wet soil and tr...
view the full question and answer

When do Habiturf® grasses make seeds?
June 16, 2015 - I planted Habiturf seeds last year near Dripping Springs. It looks like the Buffalo grass has had seeds on it for a week or 2. How long does it need to remain on the live Buffalo Grass before it can b...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion in clay soil in Heron, NY
September 07, 2009 - What plants could be used to plant on clay soil, Eastern exposure in full sun to stop erosion on a bay side hill with a steep grade?
view the full question and answer

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