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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - July 10, 2011

From: Elmhurst, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Need to replace a Silver Maple in Illinois.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

My father recently had a tornado take out a 50 year old silver maple. He is looking to replace it, but he is looking for something with interesting summer color; as he put it not "green." I am trying to encourage him to find something native before he gravitates towards a Japanese maple, do you have any suggestions? He is in Northeast Illinois, full sun, moist soil.

ANSWER:

Well, here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are all about encouraging the use of native plants. To that end, let me introduce you to our Native Plant Database  that can help with finding plants for particular situations. One way of using the Database is to scroll down to the Combination Search Box and make the following selections: Select Illinois under State, Tree under Habit, and Perennial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement, Moist under Soil moisture, and then click the Submit combination search Button. This will bring up a list of 92 native species that are suitable for landscapes in Illinois. As you go through the list, clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the characteristics of the tree, its growth requirements, and photos. With this information, he can select plants that are suitable for his location. Using our Suppliers Directory can help locate businesses that sell the plants that he has selected.

Now admittedly, most of these trees have green leaves in the Summer, but if your father can hold out until the Fall, some of these trees make a spectacular showing.

 

From the Image Gallery


Red maple
Acer rubrum

Sugar maple
Acer saccharum

White ash
Fraxinus americana

Blackgum
Nyssa sylvatica

Pin oak
Quercus palustris

Sassafras
Sassafras albidum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

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