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
2 ratings

Monday - April 24, 2006

From: Cary, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Determination of native plants of North Carolina
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am compiling lists of native plants to use in NC, and found that Dirr (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants) lists introduction dates (xxxx) for MANY of the trees you list as natives, e.g., Acer rubrum (1860), Fraxinus americana (1724), Quercus falcata (1904), Q. shumardii (1907), Q. stellata (1819), . . . Where can I find a database with truly native plants? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

All of the trees you list are North Carolina natives. The confusion comes from the terminology Dr. Dirr uses in his book. On page 5 of his "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" (3rd edition) he states, "The introduction or cultivation date is the earliest record of the plants." You would think that he would use the term "cultivated" in the text for species that are native to North America. Instead, he pretty consistently uses the term "introduction," as in "introduced to cultivation"; sort of like "introduced to polite society," as in a debutante coming out. He does, however, typically give the region of origin for non-natives somewhere in the text of a species' treatment. Also, he gives treatments for many hybrids and cultivars which greatly complicate matters.

The best resources that I know of for information about North Carolina species are Radford, et al's "Manual or the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" and the new, yet-to-be-published Weakley's "Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and surrounding areas." You can visit the University of North Carolina Herbarium web page where you can download a very large PDF file of the entire version of this publication or you can download it in several smaller PDF files. I don't know of an exhaustive database of North Carolina native plant species.
 

More Trees Questions

How Do Persimmons Breed - Starkville, MS
August 14, 2012 - Thank you for your earlier response about the genders of native persimmon trees. We have two, a much larger one that has borne fruit for years and years and a smaller one that I'd just assumed was m...
view the full question and answer

Recommend a plant similar to Corkscrew Willow for Austin, TX.
June 16, 2015 - Do corkscrew willows do well in Austin, TX? If not, can you recommend a willow like tree to plant along the banks of a creek?
view the full question and answer

Seven foot privacy fence in Tucson
November 25, 2014 - I am looking for a privacy hedge for a home in Tucson, Arizona that will be in full sun. Needs to be at least seven foot tall and low water and maintenance. Any suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Norway Pine vs. Norway Spruce
April 28, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is a Norway Pine the same species of tree as a Norway Spruce?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for Southern California coast
July 06, 2010 - I need a tree that is evergreen, non invasive roots that is not messy that can be kept at around 20 feet. We are at the edge of the thermal layer from the ocean. 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