Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

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

American mountain ash
Sorbus americana

Rusty blackhaw viburnum
Viburnum rufidulum

More Trees Questions

Native specimen tree for Houston, Texas
September 23, 2009 - Looking for recommendations for a specimen tree to flank our front steps. Evergreen, 15 feet tall, maybe 10 feet wide. Will be near icee blue Japanese yews and nearly wild rose bushes. Ideas?
view the full question and answer

When is the appropriate time to prune pecan trees in Hewitt?
September 07, 2008 - Labor Day Weekend my husband decided to trim all the low branches on a big pecan tree in our back yard which I thought should had been done at the first of the year, our temprature is in the mid 90's...
view the full question and answer

Illegal to remove an orange blossom from ground in Florida from Atlantis FL
March 28, 2012 - Is there any law that prevents someone from removing an orange blossom from the ground in Florida?
view the full question and answer

Offer to send Bumelia to Kansas from Central Texas.
April 02, 2010 - If you send my email to the person who wanted the Bumelia lanuginosa (synonym: Sideroxylon langinosum), I will dig some for him/her.
view the full question and answer

Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
May 30, 2013 - We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.
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.