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
1 rating

Monday - July 18, 2011

From: Covington, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs
Title: Mystery shrub in Michigan
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and noticed a shrub in the woods that has large clusters of small red, what I would call berries on it. Can you give me some names of wild plants that would match my description. The plants were four or five feet tall and very brushy.

ANSWER:

Your question has been forwarded to the Canadian Green Guru because I live in an ecozone very similar to yours on the Eastern Shore of Georgian Bay.

The shrub that comes to mind first is Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa (Red elderberry) because it is quite common in this area and has clusters of red berries on it right now.  It was blooming back in May/June. The other elderberry native to your area, Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry) is flowering now and will have purple berries later in the season.

If you visit our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search for Michigan, selecting shrubs and part shade to shade (light conditions in the woods) it will generate a list of shrubs that fit that description.  Each plant on the list is linked to a detailed information page with images.  You can look through those and see if you find your plant.  Not many on that list have "large clusters of small red berries", but a couple of other possibilities are:

Shepherdia canadensis (Russet buffaloberry) This plant should have red berries on it now, but they aren't really clusters.

and

Viburnum lantanoides (Hobblebush)  This plant is not native to Michigan but is to Central Ontario, so it could very well be present in your woods.  The leaves are significantly different from those of the elderberries' and it usually doesn't have berries on it until later in the summer so you should be able to ID it from the images.

Of course you have piqued our curiosity, so please let us know if you can identify it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Red elderberry
Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa

Red elderberry
Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Russet buffaloberry
Shepherdia canadensis

Hobblebush
Viburnum lantanoides

Hobblebush
Viburnum lantanoides

More Shrubs Questions

East Texas Natives and Botanical History
May 05, 2011 - I am looking for flowers &/or flowering shrubs that are native to east Texas, especially that would have been in this area over 100 or more years ago.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs as dust barrier in Georgia
August 20, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live on a dirt road in West Central Georgia. Could you recommend a fast growing, low maintenance evergreen shrub or small tree (that will not harm my horses or goats) that will fo...
view the full question and answer

Salt tolerant plants for Long Beach
May 12, 2013 - When Hurricane Sandy hit Long Beach, it has killed all my plants and now almost all of Long Beach is left with dead dried brown vegetation. I want to replant front with bushes and flowers. What woul...
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs to plant after Ashe Juniper removal
February 15, 2010 - I live on 7 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country land just north of New Braunfels. Live oak, Cedar elm, and Ashe juniper dominate the landscape. I have cleared some of the Ashe juniper and would li...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for privacy hedge in New River, AZ.
June 05, 2012 - Hi! I live on a acre that is fenced and cross-fenced with 6' chain link. I am desperate to find a drought tolerant, very low water, non-toxic, fast growing privacy hedge or vine that I can plant arou...
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