En Español

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

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!

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

rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - January 29, 2010

From: Myrtle Beach, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Should wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) wood be burned in a fireplace
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Mr. Smarty Pants, Could you please tell me if Wax Myrtle is a hardwood or softwood? Our neighbor had to cut down his as they had grown into trees from the previous owners. We would like to burn the wood in our fireplace, but won't if it is a softwood-don't want to have creosote build up!


It is not so much a matter of whether the wood is soft or hard, but what chemical components the sap contains.  The US Forest Service species information for Morella cerifera [syn. Myrica cerifera] (wax myrtle) says: "The stems and foliage of southern bayberry contain large amounts of aromatic compounds that are quite flammable, making it a potential fire hazard."  The berries of the wax myrtle have a visible wax on them that is used to make candles by boiling the berries.  The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service under yet another synonym for the plant, Myrica pusilla, says: "Members of the wax myrtle family have resinous dots on their leaves and the leaves are aromatic."  So, given the above information, you would probably be wise not to burn the wood in your fireplace.


More Trees Questions

Bark splitting in old tulip tree in Red Creek, NY.
May 18, 2013 - Hello, We have a tulip tree that has some bark splitting I guess I would call it. The tree is older and very tall. On the north side of it starting at the bottom of the trunk to about 8-9 feet up i...
view the full question and answer

Source for mulberry trees from Bryan TX
February 24, 2013 - I am looking for suggestions for nurseries from which I could purchase Red Mulberry or Texas Mulberry Tree.
view the full question and answer

Landscape color for Rialto, CA
May 11, 2009 - My sister-in-law lives in Rialto CA near the base of the San Bernardino Mt ranges and it gets very windy out there. She and I were trying to figure out the best native plants for her area. Her home fa...
view the full question and answer

Feeding live oak and redbud trees from Fredericksburg TX
October 23, 2012 - Can you please tell me what to feed my live oak and texas redbud trees that survived the drought? We have granite soil.
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center