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
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

Evergreen groundcover under pine tree in NY
May 23, 2008 - Hello! I live in upstate NY. I'm trying to find an evergreen ground cover to plant under a pine tree. I believe it's a white spruce (but I'm not postive). I've read conflicting information reg...
view the full question and answer

Madrones in Michigan?
November 01, 2010 - Will a Arbutus menziesii (Pursh Pacific madrone) grow in Huron County Michigan? I'm at the "tip of Michigan's thumb".
view the full question and answer

Problems with a two year old persimmon tree in Fredricksburg, TX.
May 22, 2013 - Hi Mr/Ms Smarty Plants, We planted a 4-ft Texas Persimmon, Diospyros texana, 2-years ago, with wonderful leaf and fruit production since. We recently had a hail storm (5/9/13) and although mos...
view the full question and answer

Will Black Walnut trees grow in Boerne TX?
June 01, 2011 - Was curious if any one sells Black Walnut Trees??? They used to be around the Boerne, TX area and I wondered if we could try to grow them.
view the full question and answer

Pruning Texas madrone trees from Utopia TX
August 19, 2012 - I have a number of large Texas Madrone trees on my ranch in Utopia Texas. A few of them have dead limbs and I was wondering whether I should cut off the dead limbs or just leave the tree alone. I wa...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center