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
Not Yet Rated

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

More Trees Questions

Willows native to Wisconsin
July 01, 2005 - I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
view the full question and answer

Determination of native plants of North Carolina
April 24, 2006 - I am compiling lists of native plants to use in NC, and found that Dirr (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants) lists introduction dates (xxxx) for MANY of the trees you list as natives, e.g., Acer rubrum ...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Plum not doing well in Liberty Hill, TX.
September 03, 2010 - Two summers have passed since I planted my Mexican Plum. It's in full sun. It seems to have added height but not much width. It's virtually a 7 foot stick with 1 foot branches from top to bottom. It...
view the full question and answer

Soil for Emory Oak from Dripping Springs, TX
April 15, 2012 - I bought an Emory Oak today at the Wildflower Center's plant sale. Upon reading about it when I got home, I see "it won't grow in alkaline soils." I was hoping to plant it in the riparian area ...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a Privacy Barrier Plant for NC
August 21, 2014 - I am trying to determine the best plant for a privacy barrier for my area in NC that has clay soil. I have a 6 foot high fence but need something 12 feet or taller. It has to be something that does no...
view the full question and answer

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