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
1 rating

Thursday - July 04, 2013

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants
Title: Is Sucissa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious) allelopathic?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pointed me to you. Can you comment on Devil's Bit Scabious? A neighbor pointed out these volunteer plants in my yard and wants me to kill them. He called them Devil's Bit and claimed that the roots spread poison to kill surrounding plants. These are tall lanky plants with small roundish lavender multi-floret flowers. My research indicates these are beneficial plants and the name is derived from the folklore that the Devil bit its roots out of jealousy and wanted to curb these beneficial plants. Most of the web pages I found are UK in origin. Thank you!

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants is part of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center whose mission is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."  Native, in this case, means native to North America.  Second of all, Succisa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious), is native to Europe (including UK) and NOT native to North America and not really in our purview.  It is sold as a garden plant in North America and the ones in your yard are someone's garden escapees.  I searched the internet using the terms "Succisa pratensis allelopathic" and I could find no evidence that the plant is allelopathic (i.e., kills or inhibits the growth of other plants growing near it).   Emorsgate Seeds in Great Britain concurs with your statement about the origin of the plant's common name.  They say:  "Devil's-bit scabious is so named because its roots end abruptly as though bitten off by the devil."

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Acre-scale Grass Removal near Austin, TX
July 04, 2014 - How do I get rid of 10 acres of Kleingrass?
view the full question and answer

Red berry that changes the taste of other foods
January 15, 2013 - Hi, your site is fantastic. I heard from a friend that he tried a red berry in Florida which when eaten change the taste of other foods eaten afterwards. He ate a lemon after trying that berry and th...
view the full question and answer

Non-native creeping fig
February 26, 2009 - I like the creeping fig that covers my brick wall but the roots are very invasive and are choking my rose bushes and other surrounding plants. I spent two days removing the roots and loosening the so...
view the full question and answer

Identification of non-native bougainvillea
December 18, 2008 - What is the Scientific Name of the Central Texas Ornamental that people call Bogan Vilias. I think that is the correct spelling. The Plant is Perenial. Their flowers are terminal, the petals are in ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for alternatives for Crape Myrtle in Washington, DC.
July 15, 2011 - What can you recommend as native alternatives to the shorter (garden-sized) crape myrtle cultivars?
view the full question and answer

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