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

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

Plants for pergola in Lubbock TX
May 29, 2013 - I need suggestions of plants, vines, bushes to plant in my backyard near my wooden pergola that will work well in full sun in Lubbock, TX. Ideally, I'd like some that attract hummingbirds and provide...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub in Florida
July 03, 2008 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about identifying some bushes. The bushes I have seen through areas of Florida and they seem to be used most often as natural fences. These are the charac...
view the full question and answer

Perennials for flowerbed in Texas Panhandle
October 19, 2012 - I have a flowerbed in a partially shaded area and want some perennials. I live in the Texas Panhandle, soil is sandy, loamy. Hardiness zone is 6-B.
view the full question and answer

Problem with American Beautyberry in Houston.
July 02, 2014 - My American Beautyberry is dying one branch at a time. The entire plant looks great, now flowering and starting to put out berries. Then one or two branches will completely die. Trim those off, wi...
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