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?

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

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
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

Curling lower leaves on live oak in Cedar Park, TX
June 11, 2009 - I have noticed that one of my live oak tree, the leaves on the bottom of the tree have stared to curl. The leaves above that look fine. The trees are about 12 yrs old. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Native Trees for Pflugerville TX
September 28, 2013 - I'm looking for suggestions on native, drought tolerant conifers that can be located in a Pflugerville landscape under overhead electric lines. Open to Arizona Cypress, but concerned about the height...
view the full question and answer

Ashe Juniper not doing well in San Antonio
April 08, 2010 - A large ash juniper (mountain cedar) in my yard appears to be sick or dying. Approximately 1/4 of the canopy has very sparse needles/green foliage stuff and shaggier than normal bark. It's not brown ...
view the full question and answer

Failure of older branches on Bauhinia lunarioides to thrive
April 27, 2008 - We planted a sapling of the Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) winter (Jan, Feb?) and now it has leaves and blooms - but only off of new branches near its trunk, as the old branches haven't ...
view the full question and answer

Spot for communion and tree planting on Long Island
February 20, 2012 - I'm planning to combine my son's communion and a tree planting memorial for his uncle/godfather that passed on Valentine's Day. I'm looking for a venue on Long Island that can combine both on May ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center