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

Need a shade tree to plant in Houston, TX
November 18, 2013 - Hi, i'm looking for a shade tree to plant on the southwest side of our house, both to make our backyard more enjoyable and to improve energy efficiency. We really like Live Oaks, but they just take t...
view the full question and answer

Native flowering aromatic trees for Frisco, Texas
June 21, 2015 - Dear Smartplants, I live in Frisco, Texas. Could you please suggest me good native flowering aromatic trees from 12 to 50 feet. Thank you so much
view the full question and answer

Pruning a rough-leaf dogwood in spring
May 04, 2012 - Is it OK to trim a rough leaf dogwood now? Should I spray after trimming? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees to withstand high winds on Top Sail Island, North Caroloina.
August 20, 2013 - Moving to coastal southern North Carolina. Planting native trees and shrubs, wax bayberry, Redbud, love the River Birch. What type of tree has the deepest roots or would be least likely to blow over...
view the full question and answer

Need a tree to replace a large oak tree that may be dying in Bedias TX.
April 28, 2011 - I live in Bedias, TX in Grimes County. One of the largest oak trees on my property looks like it's dying. It's simply not leafing out well. I literally can't afford for this to happen since I depen...
view the full question and answer

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