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

Tuesday - February 13, 2007

From: Propsect Park, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Managing Roadsides
Title: Roadside plants as absorbers of carbon dioxide
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

If plants absorb carbon dioxide why aren't they on a list of things to do to combat Global Warming? If we had more plants on the sides of our roads and highways would it help?

ANSWER:

In the normal cycle of life, plants absorb and store carbon dioxide while growing and release it back into the atmosphere during the decaying process after death. Research has long shown that forests are important "sinks" for carbon dioxide; that is, they store large amounts of the gas due to their large size and long lives. More recent research has indicated that grasslands may also be important carbon dioxide sinks.

Other than in some desert areas, most roadsides are well-populated with plants - primarily grasses - that certainly use and store significant amounts of CO2. The roads themselves and other developed areas are a separate issue, but in general, US roadsides are probably already absorbing about as much CO2 as they can. Large-scale foresting of our roadsides probably wouldn't be a practical solution for reasons ofpublic safety.

 

More Managing Roadsides Questions

Liriope spicata for erosion and dust suppression from Bonifay FL
August 16, 2011 - I want to plant Liriope 'spicata'. I know it can be aggressive and that's what I want. We live on dirt road and need something by road for help in erosion and it's also hard to mow this are...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower programs on our highways
November 17, 2008 - Do you have any statistics about the wildflower program on our highways? We are wanting information about economic savings by not mowing so much, or pollution reduction by not mowing. Any help would...
view the full question and answer

Managing Roadsides
March 20, 2004 - Id like to plant some wildflowers as part of a community or roadside project. Will you provide the seeds or grant money?
view the full question and answer

Rescue of roadside plants in Ashe Co.
October 27, 2011 - I live in a wooded area off of a dirt road that is going to be widened and paved by the state. There are many native plants and shrubs growing on the side of the road in areas that will soon be pavem...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers being mowed in Canyon TX
June 03, 2012 - Can I receive a letter from someone there to put up in our neighborhood? I live in an area very close to Palo Duro Canyon. A developer out here mows down the wildflowers along the one lane road. It ...
view the full question and answer

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