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

Friday - April 22, 2011

From: Mt Laurel, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Small trees for NJ shore
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Hello! What's a good native shrub or small tree to feature in my front yard in Brigantine, NJ, on the Jersey shore. Sunny site, dry, sandy soil. The yard is very small. I'm trying to design a low maintenance landscape featuring native plants and grasses. I thought of Myrica pennsylvanica but was worried it might get too big. Suggestions? Thanks!

ANSWER:

The bayberry, Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry) you are thinking of is a good sized plant for your situation and is a real icon of the Atlantic seashore. 

In its native habitat it grows in very sandy soil in places close to water where there is ground water for its roots, but it will tolerate a wide range of soil moisture conditions.  It responds well to pruning, so you should have no trouble keeping it the size you desire and shaping it like a small mutli-stemmed tree.  Keep in mind that it is a dioeceous plant, which means that if you want berries, you need to be sure to purchase a female (and there needs to be a male within the distance a pollinating insect can fly: probably not a problem on the Jersey Shore!)

You can generate lists of small trees or large shrubs that are native to your area by visiting our Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search.  Select: New Jersey/tree or shrub/sunny/dry conditions and size 6-12 ft (and/or 12-36 ft).  The plant names on the lists are linked to more detailed information pages about each.  If you play with Narrow Your Search by changing the variables (like moisture requirements), you will see your choices expand and contract.  You may find one that is more "ornamental" than bayberry.  Depending on how far you are from the beach, salt spray may not be an issue.

In that case, you might consider:

Small trees

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)

Asimina triloba (Pawpaw)

Sorbus americana (American mountain ash) (be absolutely certain you do not buy the European plant by accident)

Large shrubs

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush)

Viburnum dentatum (Southern arrowwood)

Here are some photos from our image gallery:


Morella pensylvanica


Morella pensylvanica


Amelanchier laevis


Asimina triloba


Sorbus americana


Amorpha fruticosa


Clethra alnifolia


Viburnum dentatum

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Pecan Trees in Austin, TX prematurely losing their leaves.
September 03, 2010 - Why are the leaves on the pecan trees falling so early this year.
view the full question and answer

Cupressaceae dying in Suffolk Co.NY
October 20, 2012 - I have noticed that all of my Cupressaceae (& others I see in my area) are dying. They turn yellow, then rust & brown til they are everbrowns. what is going on?
view the full question and answer

Small flowering tree for cemetery in TX
November 07, 2010 - I am looking for a native large shrub or small tree to plant at a cemetery in Pflugerville, TX, preferable something with flowers. I need something that won't have a large root system that would dis...
view the full question and answer

Wound in Monterey Oak from Austin
June 20, 2012 - I have a 10 year old Monterey Oak that has developed a wound that is secreting a white bubbly substance that has attracted all the bugs, like butterfly's , pill bugs, ants, and several others I don'...
view the full question and answer

Pecan leaves falling of the trees in Austin, TX.
August 08, 2012 - Why are the pecan tree leaves turning black, sappy and falling off the trees, in great quantities? This has happened since the recent rains, all through the Allandale area.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center