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

Monday - April 30, 2012

From: Saint Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree for St Paul MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Need deciduous faster growing shade tree, more taproot style (few/no surface bulging roots--had to cut down large silver maple), few/no fatal pests, tolerant of cold (MN), preferably able to take variations in rainfall (normally sufficient in total). Soil tends toward mix of sand & earthy, now with lots of wood chips where I need to plant, roughly where old tree was--stump chopped to approx. 6 inches depth. Choices welcome. Tree must be fairly readily available. Want to start with 4-5 footer. Cost not a big problem.

ANSWER:

We are going to use our Native Plant Database to see how close we can come to fulfilling your requirements. We will begin with the database (link above), search on trees that grow natively in Minnesota, and by adding different specifications, see if we can find the perfect tree for your purposes. If you need more information on a specific plant, go to the bottom of the webpage on that plant to Additional Resources, click on the Google link, and you will get links to more information.

To begin with your first request, a taproot tree-lots of gardeners are looking for this one. While many trees and woody plants start off with a taproot, as they develop they will, of necessity, put out extensive, close to the surface roots that will likely be more extensive underground than the spread of the canopy aboveground, often as much as three times the size of the canopy. The majority of the roots will be within 12 inches of the surface of the soil, to facilitate gas exchanges. In order to carry on photosynthesis, green plants need a supply of carbon dioxide and a means of disposing of oxygen. 

It is important to remember that the plant has no choice in how it grows. Nature takes care of that. You have the choice in where you place the plant, so you need to consider the requirements and ultimate size of the plant when you select a place for it in your garden.

We went to the database and, using the Combination Search, indicated Minnesota as the state, tree as the Habit or General Appearance. We have no way of indicating in our search how fast-growing a plant is, but sometimes the webpage will have that information, as well as pests and diseases. So, we'll run our first search and see what we get.

Trees for Minnesota:

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)

Betula nigra (River birch)

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (Redosier dogwood)

Crataegus mollis (Downy hawthorn)

Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky coffeetree)

Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry)

Larix laricina (Tamarack)

Malus ioensis (Prairie crabapple)

Picea mariana (Black spruce)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak)

You can go back to our database and select on other specifications, such as height, light requirements, soil moisture, etc. Go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state (or zip code) in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape specialists in your general area. All have contact information; if the one you reach does not have the species you are looking for, they may be able to recommend a supplier who does.

 

From the Image Gallery


Allegheny serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis

River birch
Betula nigra

American hornbeam
Carpinus caroliniana

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Downy hawthorn
Crataegus mollis

Kentucky coffeetree
Gymnocladus dioicus

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Tamarack
Larix laricina

Prairie crabapple
Malus ioensis

Black spruce
Picea mariana

American plum
Prunus americana

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

More Trees Questions

Tree with light-colored bark, thorns and long white clumps of flowers
August 18, 2015 - I bought a tree at the LBJWC plant sale a couple years ago but lost the name of the tree. I'm finally ready to plant it in the ground and would like to learn more about what its needs are. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Determining gender of Texas Hill Country native trees
August 22, 2006 - How can I identify which (Tx Hill Country) native trees are separate male & female? Specifically Tx Pistache and American Smoke Tree. Do I have to wait until they flower and inspect the flower for c...
view the full question and answer

Decline of mesquite and persimmon trees in San Antonio
September 07, 2009 - We have lived in a house in San Antonio for about 30 years now and in the last 5 years, we have seen the decline of several mesquite and wild persimmon trees. I am wondering what would cause their de...
view the full question and answer

Planting Live oak trees in Katy, TX.
November 03, 2012 - We are building a house in a neighborhood where the HOA requires two live oaks in the front yard. Our lot is pie shaped leaving a very small front yard once you take into acct the driveway and sidewal...
view the full question and answer

Hardy Tree for Kansas
March 14, 2012 - I'm hoping to find a tree that is hardy and will survive all rough seasons in Wichita, KS. The spot is in front of a northern exposure window.
view the full question and answer

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