En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

Saturday - November 03, 2007

From: Friday Harbor, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Is Carolina laurel (Prunus caroliniana) a good choice for San Juan Islands, Washington?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What are the prospects for Carolina laurel here on San Juan Island, mixed in with thin stand of douglas fir, about 50 feet from shore, eastern exposure? Water is available but little sun because of larger trees. We're hoping to create a screen between us and the neighbors. Thank you, oh mighty green guru!


Well, unfortunately, Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) is native only to the southeastern and southern U.S. and Texas and California. It is very unlikely that it would thrive on the San Juan Islands. There are other Prunus species that are native to the northwest—Prunus virginiana (chokecherry), Prunus emarginata (bitter cherry) and Prunus subcordata (Klamath plum)—but all of these are deciduous and Mr. SP is almost certain that you are looking for an evergreen, right?

Here are some alternative possibilities for evergreen shrubs/trees that are native to San Juan County, Washington:

1. Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita) reaches 5-10 feet. You can see more photos of Arctostaphylos columbiana from Oregon State University.

2. Vaccinium ovata (Evergreen huckleberry) grows up to 10 feet tall.

3. Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone) can grow to be a large tree (up to 100 feet); but, of course, it does start smaller and takes a while to get to its full height.

4. Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) is another evergreen native to the San Juans that can grow to 50 feet, but is slow growing.

5. Gaultheria shallon (salal) grows to 1-4 feet.

6. Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry) grows 3-6 feet tall.

The Green Guru hopes you can find an acceptable alternative to Carolina laurel among these.


More Trees Questions

Can a pecan tree be kept from producing for a season?
July 03, 2009 - Can a pecan tree be kept from producing for a season?
view the full question and answer

Failure of older branches on Bauhinia lunarioides to thrive
April 27, 2008 - We planted a sapling of the Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) winter (Jan, Feb?) and now it has leaves and blooms - but only off of new branches near its trunk, as the old branches haven't ...
view the full question and answer

Eastern redcedar uprooted by snow in Arlington, TX
February 14, 2010 - During the recent snowstorm one of our juniperus virginiana fell over with the rootball looking intact and with a lot of soil all around it.Should we try to save it? It is approximately 20 feet tall ...
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf blister on live oak tree
September 20, 2007 - Our live oak tree has a bad case of oak leaf blister and is really in need of a trim. Will it hurt the tree if we have it trimmed now? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Seven foot privacy fence in Tucson
November 25, 2014 - I am looking for a privacy hedge for a home in Tucson, Arizona that will be in full sun. Needs to be at least seven foot tall and low water and maintenance. Any suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center