Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Shade Loving Plants for Under a Black Walnut Tree in Rochester, NY.
May 09, 2015 - Please advise on plants that will grow in the shade under a black walnut tree in Rochester, NY.
view the full question and answer

Speed of growth of quercus agrifolia from Torrance CA
September 20, 2012 - I planted a quercus agrifolia in my front yard about 2 years ago without considering its ultimate size (it's about 10 feet from the sidewalk and 10 feet from our house). The tree is growing really fa...
view the full question and answer

Trees safe near walls from Rio Grande City
March 24, 2012 - What trees can be planted near the house that the roots won't break my walls?
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
July 06, 2011 - Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?
view the full question and answer

Can a Texas Mountain Laurel be grown in Drake CO
August 22, 2010 - I live in Colorado, in the mountains near Estes Park, and would like to plant the Texas Mountain Laurel. Can they be grown in this environment. I would be willing to grow them in containers so I could...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.