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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 11, 2005

From: Phillipsburg, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Questioning native status of Alberta Spruce in New Jersey
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am in the process of transforming my yard to native plants. Several years ago I planted a Dwarf Alberta Spruce. I want to be sure this isn't native before I remove it but haven't been able to find anything to confirm this. Could you please verify it isn't native before I dig it up.

ANSWER:

 

First, we commend you for your laudable efforts to create a native plant garden! The question of nativity comes up often and in cases like the one you're asking about the question can be difficult.

 

In a strict sense, Dwarf Alberta Spruce is not remotely native to your area; in a less strict sense, it comes close. Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Picea glauca 'Conica', is a cultivar of White Spruce, Picea glauca. It was discovered and collected near Lake Laggan, Alberta, Canada in 1904 by Alfred Rehder and J.G. Jack, two Arnold Arboretum botanists. They brought the plant back to Boston, found it easy to propagate and released it to the nursery trade a few years later. Dwarf Alberta Spruce and its many progeny have become very important components of the landscaper's palette.

 

In theory at least, Dwarf Alberta Spruce could have arisen and been discovered at any place within its broad range which sweeps across the extreme northern United States and most of Canada. If it had been discovered at the southeastern edge of the species' range in Pennsylvania or New York, you might consider it to be "very nearly native" to New Jersey. So if your garden is to include only those plants native to New Jersey, then it's not a good choice for you. If your criteria are less exacting, let's say the native species of the northeastern US, then Picea glauca will certainly work for you, if not Picea glauca 'Conica'. Finally, if you wish to exclude cultivars of northeastern US native plant species that actually arose in western Canada, then I'm afraid that Dwarf Alberta Spruce will have no place in your garden.

 

More Trees Questions

Live Christmas tree in Katy, TX
March 16, 2010 - My husband is really bent towards having a live "Christmas tree" in the front yard. I hate to use anything non-native so I am looking for a native Texas juniper shrub or a small tree that can be tri...
view the full question and answer

Space for a desert willow in Odessa, TX
April 23, 2009 - I have a small planting space about 5X5 that is four feet in front of the side of my front door. It is right under the eaves of my house. It's rather an enclosed porch space. I have a new very sma...
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Plants in bloom in April in Stuart FL
February 24, 2012 - Can you tell me which plants I might reasonably expect to see in bloom in April of this year?
view the full question and answer

Distance from existing structures to plant a tree in New York
March 05, 2009 - I would like to plant a large maple or birch near my suburban home. How far away from my home, garage, or any buildings should the seed be planted?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center