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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

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 - June 25, 2009

From: Crowley lake, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Plants that will survive in Mammoth Lake, CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What fruit trees survive the Mammoth Lakes winter? What roses will grow in Mammoth? Please give me a list of all trees that grow in Crowley and Mammoth lakes?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower is devoted to the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but the area in which they are being grown. Most fruit trees are so heavily hybridized that they do not qualify as native plants, and most of them also originated in areas other than North America. A factor you also need to consider is the elevation of Mammoth Lakes. At an elevation of 7880 feet in East Central California, you are looking at USDA Hardiness Zones of 4b (-25 to -20 deg average annual minimum temperature) to 6a (-5 to 0). For us to help you select roses presents a similar problem; all but a handful of the roses we see today are hybridized products of roses from other continents, especially China. Elevation and temperatures can affect them, as well. 

Due to our lack of expertise in non-native plants, we believe a better source for your information would be your County Extension Agent. Often, they will have lists of trees or other plants, including roses, that are recommended for a particular area. 

However, you can search for trees native to either place by going to our Recommended Species, clicking on Northern California on the map, and Tree in the Habit menu. You will then need to follow the link at the bottom of the page on each individual tree to the USDA Plant Profile on that tree. By clicking on the map of California, you will find out in which counties that tree grows. We'll do an example for you:We selected Northern California, and found a tree we liked, Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone). We followed the plant link to the page on that tree, and at the bottom of the page, clicked on the USDA Plant Profile link for Arbutus menziesii. From the map of the United States on that site, we clicked on California, and got a graphic of the counties in California where that tree grows. Although you could probably tell better than we could, since you would know the shapes and positions of the counties, it looks to us like the Pacific Madrone will grow in Crowley but not in Mammoth Lakes. So, you see why it would be better for you to go to a local agricultural specialist like the County Extension people to get lists of plants that grow well in a specific region. They are not limited to native plants, as we are, and probably already have printouts of the answers to your questions. 

Contact page for University of California Extension Office for Mendocino Co. (Crowley) California

Contact page for University of California Extension Office Inyo-Mono Counties (Mammoth Lakes) California

Both have links to Gardening sections.

 

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