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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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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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Wednesday - October 21, 2009

From: Rumson, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identfication
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hi...Can you please identfy the tall, evergreen shrub with purple plum-colored foliage that I have noticed in winter locally?...Hope so, need he color! THX


Well, Mr. Smarty Plants can tell you the native evergreen shrubs that produce red or purple foliage in the winter and the deciduous shrubs that have colorful fall foliage.  However, it is possible that the shrubs you are seeing are introduced and not native.  If none of the native shrubs that are listed below is the one you have seen, you can send us photos and we can perhaps identify it and determine if it is a native or non-native shrub.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions for submitting photos.



Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel) has blue-green leaves that turn reddish-green to purplish in the fall.

Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) leaves turn from light-green to dark-green to purple through the year.

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry) has dark-green leaves that turn reddish in the fall.



Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood) has reddish foliage in the fall.

Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood) with reddish twigs, leaves and fruit in the fall.

Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn) with red fruits and foliage in the fall.

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle) with dark-green leaves that turn yellowish and then red in the fall.

Photinia floribunda (purple chokeberry) with reddish to purple foliage in the fall.

Photinia melanocarpa (black chokeberry) with crimson-red foliage in the fall.  Here are photos.

Photinia pyrifolia (red chokeberry) with orange-red foliage and red berries in the fall.

Rhus copallinum (winged sumac) with dark-red foliage in the fall.

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac) with spectacular red foliage in fall.

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) with red berries and colorful fall foliage.

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood) with reddish-purple fall foliage.

Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw) with reddish-purple fall foliage.

Kalmia angustifolia

Kalmia latifolia

Mahonia aquifolium

Cornus sericea

Cornus racemosa

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Diervilla lonicera

Photinia floribunda

Photinia pyrifolia

Rhus copallinum

Rhus glabra

Rhus typhina

Viburnum dentatum

Viburnum prunifolium

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