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

Tuesday - September 27, 2011

From: Alexandria, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Small native trees for northern Virginia
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for a native alternative to a Japanese Red Maple in northern Virginia. I would like a small tree that I can put in my front garden that will not pose a security risk my being overgrown and too large. We thought the Japanese Red Maple would be nice, because it is a smaller and more contained tree, but I do not want to introduce a non-native plant. PLEASE HELP! Thank you!

ANSWER:

You will find a list of small native trees suitable for your area at the following Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site.  Browsing through the list you may find just the ideal tree for your site.  I can from personal experience recommend certain species, including Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood), Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud), Aesculus pavia (Scarlet buckeye), Chionanthus virginicus (White fringetree), Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn), Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), Ptelea trifoliata (Wafer ash), Sorbus americana (American mountain ash) and Viburnum rufidulum (Rusty blackhaw viburnum).  Click on the species name to view a description.

Most of these species have attractive flowers and/or fruit.  Only one, Yaupon, is truly evergreen, but some others hold their leaves well into the autumn.  I attach images of the species mentioned above from the Wildflower Center's Image Gallery.

 

From the Image Gallery


Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia

White fringetree
Chionanthus virginicus

Carolina buckthorn
Frangula caroliniana

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Wafer ash
Ptelea trifoliata

American mountain ash
Sorbus americana

Rusty blackhaw viburnum
Viburnum rufidulum

More Trees Questions

Escarpment Black Cherry losing leaves in Austin, TX.
July 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Plants: We live in Austin off of Mount Bonnell Road. We have beautiful 20 foot tall + black escarpment cherry tree very near the house with leaves turning yellow like it's about to drop th...
view the full question and answer

Native tree for Uvalde Texas
March 10, 2016 - What Tree can grow in Uvalde Tx. Native type
view the full question and answer

Planting petunias around base of oak tree from Houma LA
March 30, 2013 - I live in south Louisiana and I want to plant petunias. Can I plant petunias around the base of an oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Rhododendrons Hydrangeas in Indiana
December 13, 2007 - I live in very southern Indiana. Our home faces west and at the front of our home I have planted three rhododendrons. The furthest south is growing well the two to the north not so well. All three h...
view the full question and answer

Madrone too close to house in Oregon
February 02, 2009 - I have a small Madrone tree (8ft tall) located approximatly 15 feet from my house, with a basement. Should I remove it? ie will it damage the foundation and is the tree strong enough that it will no...
view the full question and answer

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