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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Friday - January 07, 2011

From: Ashford, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Windthrow Resistant Trees for Northeast Connecticut
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We live in northeast CT, and prefer to plant native trees. Many people here do not want trees around their homes, despite the benefits of shade and shelter they provide, because they are afraid of windthrow damaging their homes. Which native trees are least likely to be vulnerable to being blown over? We have several high water table soils, but most are dry glacial till.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants worked a crossword puzzle recently where one of the clues read, "Strong as an _ _ _." Let's see, "ox?" Nope, not enough letters. "Acre of garlic?" Nope, too many letters. Wait, I've got it - Quercus.

No type of tree is going to be completely immune to windthrow, but the oaks did not come by their reputation for strength by accident. If any tree is going to stand up to a high wind, my money is on an oak.

Here are nine species of oak pulled from the native plant database which the USDA identifies as native to Windham county in northeast Connecticut:

Quercus alba (White oak)

Quercus bicolor (Swamp white oak)

Quercus coccinea (Scarlet oak)

Quercus ilicifolia (Bear oak)

Quercus palustris (Pin oak)

Quercus rubra (Northern red oak)

Quercus rubra var. ambigua (Northern red oak)

Quercus velutina (Black oak)

From this list, you can go into the database (click on Plant Database in the upper right hand corner of this page) and look up each plant. You can then make your selection(s) based on your taste and the specific conditions of your site.

Here are a couple of pictures from the species listed above. These pictures are not intended to recommend these species, they're just pretty.


Quercus alba


Quercus rubra

 

 

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