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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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Monday - November 26, 2012

From: New York City, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Most invasive, noxious plant in U.S. from New York City.
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was wondering, what is the most invasive/ noxious plant in the U.S? Thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

The most invasive/noxious plant in the U.S. is the one in your yard, or in a nearby nature preserve, or waters where you like to fish and boat. They are almost invariably introduced,  non-native plants that were brought in from Asia or Europe with good intentions, for groundcover or lumber or just as an ornamental. Sometimes the invasive arrives in your area as a stowaway seed in a shipment of seeds, perhaps grass seeds, from a foreign country. If the seeds or imported plants find favorable climate but no animals or insects that will graze those plants they will prosper. Left in their natural habitat, over the millennia, the plants and the grazers or the humans searching for fuel will reach some sort of natural balance. Invasiveness or noxiousness is in the eye of the beholder. We will try to find some references to noxious and/or invasive plants in the New York area, and perhaps some others in other parts of the U.S. that just haven't managed to spread to your area yet, or for which your climate is not favorable.

An article from the United States National Arboretum details the following plants as being outstanding invasives: Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife), native to Europe, Asia, and Australia, Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven), native to China and Taiwan, and Hedera helix (English Ivy), native to Asia and Europe, as being outstanding leaders in the North American invasives field. Each plant link will take you to additional information on that plant.

To focus in a little more on invasive plants in your area, here is an article from the Cornell University Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program.

 

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