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

Colony of bees nesting in sycamore
July 06, 2010 - I have a very large, old sycamore tree that has recently become home to a colony of honey bees. They have taken up dwelling in a hollow limb of the tree about 25 feet off the ground. While this is gre...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive carrot wood tree losing leaves in Alpine CA
April 22, 2014 - My carrot wood tree is losing all of its leaves. The tree is about 15foot high & 13 years old. Could it be gophers? The tree was trimmed 1 year ago.
view the full question and answer

Dog eats Celtis laevigata, sugar hackberry
May 21, 2012 - This is an odd question but I am a biologist and have for years notice an odd behavior in my Golden Retriever. When he gets stomach distress or something makes him nervous like an incoming thunderstor...
view the full question and answer

Possible allelopathic properties of Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
October 02, 2015 - I want to plant a coral honeysuckle at the base of a mesquite tree. Anything in the mesquite that would inhibit the honeysuckle from growing?
view the full question and answer

Moving a red oak away from the house foundation
January 24, 2008 - About a 3 weeks ago I noticed a 5 ft. red oak growing in my flower bed. I hadn't noticed it growing up through my shrubs until the leaves turned bright red. The problem is that its coming up about tw...
view the full question and answer

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