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

Monday - April 19, 2010

From: Belle Mead, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Planting spot for sycamore in Belle Mead NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

At school we all got a tree. It was a Buttonwood tree, which I know is REALLY big, but my grandma wants to plant it near other trees. Where should I put it? My dad won't let me plant it in the middle of the yard. Also, will lightning be more attracted to IT or a lightning rod?

ANSWER:

We hate to side with your grandmother and father, but we agree that the Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) would be better planted near other trees. I'm sure it is a very small tree right now, and since it can grow in sun, part shade or shade, it could use the shelter of the other trees until it gets a little more size on it and can take care of itself. Also, planting it in the middle of your yard means that when it grows up (and it's a pretty fast-growing tree) it will shade out the grass in your lawn, and drop a whole lot of leaves and seeds on the ground. My grandmother, in Wichita Falls, Texas had sycamores in her yard, and I always loved the peeling bark and what I  called the "fluffballs" but were really seed balls. That is probably why this tree also has the common name "buttonwood." It is a native to New Jersey, and you can follow the plant link above to our page on it and find out more about how it grows.

Now, about the lightning. You realize that is a little out of our field, which is plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. But it is an interesting question, so we did a little research to find something that might help you figure out the answer. 

Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Trees and Lightning

How Stuff Works How Lightning Works

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Will Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) be toxic to chickens?
July 25, 2010 - We are considering planting Carolina Cherry Laurels around our yard for dense hedging purposes. We are concerned because we have a small flock of free-ranging chickens who eat every seed and leaf in ...
view the full question and answer

Tree for a Missouri yard
March 10, 2012 - Our front yard tree died. We have landscaping that needs shade. We are in Zone 5, looking for a fast/medium growing shade tree that does not produce anything that falls into the grass and will allow t...
view the full question and answer

Trees for privacy in NY
March 17, 2011 - I am looking for trees native to New York that I can plant in front of my backyard fence that is six feet tall that will not hide my fence or overshadow my east facing garden beds and plants underneat...
view the full question and answer

Tree with taproot for Jodhpur India
July 05, 2013 - I am a resident of India. I need information of a tree with tap roots to grow in my backyard. We have moderate to hot climate here. It needs to be as small as possible due to lack of space. It'd be g...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree blooming in Austin with yellow balls
March 21, 2012 - What is the tree/large shrub that is blooming now (mid-March) in the Austin area? It has small mesquite-type leaves, round yellow balls with fuzz on them and is fragrant. Thanks!
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