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

Wednesday - July 06, 2011

From: Bond Head, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Mystery tree in Ontario
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I found a tree (similar to an apple tree in blossom) in a shaded area by a stream on our property. I have never seen anything like it. It is again, like an apple branch with the blossoms, however, the blossoms are white, trillium like in shape with a yellow centre, the size of a quarter. Do you know what this would be? I cut some branches and the blossoms have lived and not wilted.

ANSWER:

This is a really intriguing question and has me baffled because of the somewhat conflicting information you have provided.

Plants are grouped in families because of the similarity of their flowers and apple trees (as well as plums, pears, peaches, cherries, hawthorns and mountain ash) are members of the rose family.  Their flowers are all single, five petalled, with a cluster of upright stamens in the centre.  Not anything like a trillium.

Although you are out of its native range as it is a tree of the Carolinian forest and you are situatued in the Eastern Deciduous Forest Region, I am wondering if it could be Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood).  The "flower" petals are as striking and clear white as a trillium, but there are 4, not three and they are blunt, not pointed like the trillium.  The Chinese Kousa Dogwood is similar but with pointed petals.  It is hardier than and flowers later than Cornus florida (in June).  Both dogwoods produce berries the birds love, but the kousa's berries are too large for the beaks of most of our migrating songbirds.  That hasn't stopped the tree from naturalizing in New York State.  So it is not out out of the question that you would find it in your woods.

The description of where you found the tree is more typical of the dogwoods than apple trees and it's relatives as well.  Other than its iconic flower, the most notable characteristic of Cornus florida is it's sympodial branching pattern, which leads to a somewhat horizontal and graceful form.

Follow the link to the detailed information page (with images) and let us know if we have guessed right. If not, we recommend you submit a photo to one of the plant identification forums we recommend.  We also recommend you obtain a copy of Linda Kershaw's informative and well organized book, Trees of Ontario to help you with tree identification. It is available in bookstores, at amazon.ca and even some Canadian Tire stores.

 

From the Image Gallery


Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida

More Trees Questions

Corkscrew willow damage to roof in Detroit, MI.
August 13, 2009 - I have a corkscrew willow (Detroit, MI) that is huge and whose branches hang on top of the asphalt shingles of my mobile home. It has now been discovered that these shingles, under the branches, are ...
view the full question and answer

Wasps on live oaks from Sinton TX
August 20, 2012 - Wasps on my live oak trees. What is attracting them? Does this hurt the tree?
view the full question and answer

Identity of wild plum in Childress County, Texas
March 16, 2015 - I have a Wild Plum follow up question. My wife grew up around the Childress TX area. She remembers going around the creeks and gathering Wild Plums for her mother as a child. Would you have any ide...
view the full question and answer

Pruning an oak tree in Missouri in February
February 09, 2009 - Can I prune an oak tree in Missouri in February?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Arizona Ash from Naco AZ
May 19, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smarty.. Live in southeast corner of Az. My Az. Ash is diseased. Just noticed leaves are curled, (still green) and when I open the leaf it has a zillion little white, what look like mites ...
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