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
2 ratings

Saturday - May 14, 2011

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Eugenia Substitutes for Southern California
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Is there a eugenia bush (preferable one that can grow tall) without berries. We like this plant but the berries create a problem. We live in Los Angeles, CA. Thank you.

ANSWER:

It doesn’t look good for your quest.  Eugenia is a genus and there are 32 different species of it. The tough part for your quest is that a characteristic of the genus is a centimeter sized cherry-like fruit.

  I’m guessing you are considering a Eugenia apiculata [Shortleaf Stopper], which is present in California as an introduced species rather than as the native species which Mr SmartyPlants recommends.  The USDA shows multiple species of Eugenia in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands  but even then, mostly as introduced species. Eugenia axillaris (White stopper) is the only one native to Florida.   From the pictures it looks like all of them have berries, so it doesn’t look good for finding a nice clean, native Eugenia bush.

  How about another Myrtle that is native to California?    Morella californica (California wax myrtle)  is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to the Pacific Ocean coast.  It is on the recommended species list for southern California.  That would be the preferred native.

 On the other hand, on the species record for it’s near relative, Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) it was noted “Because there are separate male and female plants, if you want berries you must have male plants close enough to the berry-producing female plants for pollination to occur.”   This might be your chance to keep a clean sidewalk!  Unfortunately, It seems that Morella californica, California wax myrtles, unlike Morella cerifera, are monoecious, i.e., they have both male and female flowers on the same plant and thus all shrubs will produce berries. If you would like to dig deeper into this, here is a scholarly reference that discusses their fruiting.

As long as you are considering trees other than the Eugenia, you might consider Cercocarpus montanus (Alderleaf mountain mahogany).  It is evergreen and doesn't have berries.   Here's another possibility, Ceanothus megacarpus (Big-pod buckbrush) or one of the other Ceanothus spp.   I think most of the California ones are evergreen and don't have berries. 

It would be a good idea to contact your local extension office; here is the website for the LA County Extension office.  The experts there [master gardeners] should have opinions as to whether this approach can work for trees that do well in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Alderleaf mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus

More Shrubs Questions

Webworm on Texas Mountain Laurel in Texas
September 02, 2015 - I thought my mountain laurel had web worms and I sprayed for them. Now the plant looks like it still has the worms even though none are present. Also, I sprayed with a fungicide because some of the ...
view the full question and answer

Wound from non-native date palm thorn Naples FL
November 12, 2012 - Was trimming my pygmy date palm when a frond fell and a thorn pierced my rubber gloves and stuck me in the web of skin between my thumb and forefinger. Did not see a broken thorn but area where struc...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Hedge for Dripping Springs, TX
April 25, 2014 - We live in Dripping Springs, TX and are looking to find a suggestion for privacy hedges that are non-toxic to dogs, drought resistant, can handle rocky soil and full sun. We prefer flowering hedges. ...
view the full question and answer

Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses from Austin
May 13, 2014 - Is Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses? Will horses eat it? I have a client who has a mini-horse who visits her property on occasion, and I want to ensure that what I plant is both safe for the hors...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen flowering shrub for San Antonio, TX
May 20, 2013 - Need a suggestion for an evergreen flowering bush, 3 ft tall for shady area by front door. Have gardenia bushes there now - did well until we had a hard freeze and have struggled ever since. Ideas ple...
view the full question and answer

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