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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 - November 05, 2008

From: San Anselmo, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native Mayten tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi. Our Mayten tree was doing really well, but just in the last month has last a great amount of its leaves, and it seems to be tilting slightly now. We placed some small plants in the same area of tree and irrigated those using, basically, the same irrigation line (drip system). Is it possible the tree is now not getting enough water (or too much water because of the other plants getting watered)? Please help if you can. Thank you. Mark

ANSWER:

Maytenus boaria is a native of South America and therefore does not fall into the expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where we recommend only plants native to North America and preferably to the area in which they are being grown. In the past, when the pressure of questions was not quite so great, we did answer one question about the Mayten tree, and will quote from it here, to try to help you out:

"The species that generally occurs in California, Maytenus boaria, is not native to North America and I am supposing that this is the one that you have. Although our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is on plants native to North America, we are happy to point you to advice on non-native plants if we can. Here is some information about care of the mayten tree from the the San Francisco group, Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). The care instructions from FUF does indicate that the tree needs good drainage. Another urban forest group, Canopy, based in Palo Alto, California, lists "collar, foot and crown rots" as problems for the mayten tree which certainly could occur from not having good drainage. Here is some general advice about transplanting trees from the University of California Cooperative Extension."

 

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