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
3 ratings

Wednesday - March 14, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Removing non-native plants appearing in Austin in early spring
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

In order to know which plants to keep and which to remove, is there a source to look up and identify common non-native plants that are seen in Austin about this time of the year (late winter, early Spring)?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center specializes in native plants, and our expertise in non-natives is limited.  However, many of us pull them out of our gardens pretty regularly.  So here are a few suggestions.

Texas Invasives keeps a web site showing the invasive plants found in the state. Many of the listed plants are large and perennial, and the long list is unwieldy to browse through.  I have the feeling that you are referring to small "weeds" that suddenly appear in flower beds and lawns at this time of year.  Many but not all of these are non-natives that happen to grow very well in our area.  I recommend a list compiled by Texas A & M. It has the best images I know for identification.  Look down the list of Annual Broadleaf Weeds and examine photos of the following (note that photo ref. 1 is not functional):  Bur clover, Catchweed bedstraw, Common purslane, Ground spurge, Hedge parsley, Henbit, Scarlet gaura, Spiny sowthistle, Spurge (prostrate), Thistle (Malta star), and Wild lettuce. These are among the most common plants invading our flower beds and gardens right now.  Among those not shown on the A & M list are the following common natives: Plantago major (Common plantain) and similar species, Taraxacum officinale (Common dandelion), Vicia ludoviciana (Louisiana vetch), Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus (Smallflower desert-chicory), also called Texas dandelion, and Parietaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania pellitory).  Images of these latter species are shown below.

I should mention an extremely invasive non-native that has overwhelmed the roadsides in Texas within just the past few years.  It is called Bastard cabbage, and is very difficult to erradicate.  If you happen to have that species, pull it up or cut it down quickly before it sets seeds.

I hope this limited information will be helpful to you.  Good luck in your gardening.

 

 

From the Image Gallery






Deer pea vetch
Vicia ludoviciana

Smallflower desert-chicory
Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus

Pennsylvania pellitory
Parietaria pensylvanica

More Invasive Plants Questions

My plants are choking.
September 01, 2008 - I have a trailing weed that is choking the other plants in my garden. It grows super fast and it has small white flowers. The flower looks a bit like a mini morning glory. I have tried pulling it as m...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will do well in a water retention basin in White Stone Virginia
May 23, 2011 - I am looking for plants to grow under pine trees in a water retention basin. The pine trees line the basin. When it rains it will hold water for about two to three days before evaporating. I have p...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen replacement for bamboo in Redding CA
July 27, 2009 - We have just removed bamboo from our backyard and need to replace it with a plant that will give us the same type of privacy. What plant would you suggest to plant along a fence line that will surviv...
view the full question and answer

Identification of fast-growing weeds with orange flowers
July 14, 2013 - I have fast growing plants (weeds?) in my heavily wooded backyard. They reach heights of over 6 ft and have orange flowers. I have spent hours searching the web today with no success -the closest thin...
view the full question and answer

Controlling KR Bluestem
February 11, 2016 - How can I control KR Bluestem in my 55 acre coastal bermuda hayfield? The field has a Farm Road along one side planted in KR, and now the hayfield is about 25 - 30% KR. Summer burn is fairly dangerous...
view the full question and answer

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