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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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Thursday - July 16, 2015

From: Dade City, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Problem Plants
Title: Getting Rid of Firecracker Flower
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We live in the Tampa area of Florida. We planted Russelia equisetiformis under some palm trees 10 years ago. It has grown deep among the palm tree roots. We want to kill the Russelia without harming the palms. The Russelia is impossible to pull out. We cut them down to the ground but they came back. We are afraid to use vegetation killer because of the palm roots.How can we kill the Russelia without killing the palms?

ANSWER:

As you may know, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it grows naturally. We went to our Native Plant Database and could not find Russelia equitiformis.  From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question answered by Barbara Medford, here's a modified reply dealing with your plant and also the confusion around common names such as firecracker plant.

Another plant that has "firecracker plant" in its common name is Russelia equisetiformis, with this article from Floridata explaining that it is native to Mexico and therefore not in our Native Plant Database. Pictures.

Your plant, that has been introduced,  purchased from a nursery, and has now become invasive in a garden probably fertilized and watered, which it did not get in their native countries. We suggest you contact the county extension agent office.  If your plant has been purchased locally and now is invasive in your area, the Pasco County Extension Office will probably already have information on it and advice on eliminating it.

 

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