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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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Wednesday - September 05, 2007

From: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Shade Tolerant, Trees
Title: Native alternatives for Japanese maple
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I am a landscaper trying to create a landscape in a shaded area with no sun. The person likes a Acer palmatum, but I am not sure it will grow there. We live in South Lake Tahoe. So I know of some plants that will probably survive, but what kind of tree that looks like a maple or a acer will survive. I also bought a light meter. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) is an introduced species and since our mission at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes", Mr. Smarty Plants wouldn't really recommend using it. There are, however, two native species of maple that are found in El Dorado County, California—Acer glabrum (Rocky Mountain maple) and Acer macrophyllum (bigleaf maple). According to our information, A. macrophyllum grows well in part shade so it might be your best choice of the two.

You can see photos and more information about Acer glabrum from the USDA Plants Database, Virginia Tech Department of Forestry and the Ministry of Forests of the Government of British Columbia.

You can see photos and more information about Acer macrophyllum from the USDA Plants Database, Virginia Tech Department of Forestry and the Ministry of Forests and Range of the Government of British Columbia.

 

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