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

Sunday - September 19, 2010

From: La Jolla, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Native tree for San Diego, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have conflicting info about the Mayten tree. Pro: recommended patio tree, medium water needs, does not drop seed or leaves. Con: broadly invasive suckers, messy drop. I am in San Diego, California near the ocean. We deal with salt air and drought but no frost. I am thinking of planting one on our front yard bank with full sun all day and medium watering for surrounding plants. Have already lost two Oklahoma Redbud trees in the same spot. What can you advise?

ANSWER:

There are two species of Maytenus, the mayten tree, that occur in the continental United States and only one of those, Maytenus phyllanthoides, is native.

The species that generally occurs in California, Maytenus boaria, is not native to North America and I am supposing that this is the one that you are thinking about planting. Since the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes", we would recommend that you not plant Maytenus boaria.  Additionally, Cal-IPC (California Invasive Plant Council) classifies the Mayten tree as invasive.  We can recommend several small native California trees for the San Diego, California area, however.

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

Garrya elliptica (Wavyleaf silktassel) and here are photos and more information.

Lyonothamnus floribundus (Catalina ironwood) and here are photos and more information.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) and here is more information.

Prunus ilicifolia (Hollyleaf cherry) and here are photos and more information.

Morella californica [syn.  Myrica cerifera] (California wax myrtle) and here are photos and more information.

Umbellularia californica (California laurel) and here is more information.

Here are photos form our Image Gallery for some of the trees above:


Chilopsis linearis


Chilopsis linearis


Heteromeles arbutifolia


Umbellularia californica

 

 

More Trees Questions

Fast growing native trees for Manor,TX
August 04, 2005 - A friend wants to plant fast-growing trees to disguise a road on ranchland east of Manor, Texas. Any ideas? Many thanks.
view the full question and answer

Planting Live oak trees in Katy, TX.
November 03, 2012 - We are building a house in a neighborhood where the HOA requires two live oaks in the front yard. Our lot is pie shaped leaving a very small front yard once you take into acct the driveway and sidewal...
view the full question and answer

Tree removal from Austin
November 18, 2013 - Unfortunately we need to cut down a Spanish oak (11" diameter, over 50 feet tall) that is leaning against our upper story deck (if it falls, the roof, deck, and steel supports may be crushed). A lim...
view the full question and answer

Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
April 07, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should es...
view the full question and answer

Can a bur oak fit in a small space in Austin?
April 11, 2011 - We recently got a one-gallon pot of Bur Oak. The area around our house has two old live oaks on the NW corner and another large live oak on the SE. There isn't much room on the SW corner for the oak ...
view the full question and answer

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