Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

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

Failure of Gerbera daisies in hanging basket
July 08, 2008 - I had perennial Gerbera daisies in a hanging basket, the flowers died,I was not sure whether to remove just the flower or to go from the flower to the stem at the plants main stem? There is nothing re...
view the full question and answer

Source for nitrates and phosphorus (P205) for lawn care
July 04, 2008 - I recently supplied soil samples from my back yard to my local extension here in Austin. I have a hybrid Bermuda turf grass (TIF 419) that has had its share of ups and downs, and wanted to assess the ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Chinaberry tree from Tucson AZ
September 05, 2013 - I have a 30+ year old Chinaberry tree and this year the branches are much sparser with leaves and there are a lot of small dead branches. Should I fertilize and what should I use? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Non-native Cape Honeysuckle, Tecomaria capensis
March 13, 2006 - I am trying to find general information on the Cape Honeysuckle or "Tecomaria" bush/plant. Is is related to the actual Honeysuckle Plant? What is it's care, propogation, sun tolerance, water requ...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza failing to bud out in Georgetown TX
March 28, 2010 - I planted esperanza shrubs last summer and they did well. I did not prune them back in the winter. They are not showing any signs of life (No greenery) Will the plants start to form leaves and flow...
view the full question and answer

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