En Español

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 - July 17, 2012

From: Canby, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Non-native, invasive peanut butter tree from Canby, OR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I too have a peanut butter tree with the pink and white blooms, its about 5 years old and is beautiful, but 2 weeks ago it started wilting and losing all its leaves, I am afraid it is dying. Can I save it??

ANSWER:

We have two problems with answering this question: The first problem is that there are two plants that have as one of their common names "Peanut Butter."

Bunchosia argentia, peanut butter tree: Plant family Malpighiaceae, native to Venezuela and Colombia. Small orange edible fruits, flavor resembling figs or peanut butter, with peanut butter scent. USDA Hardiness Zones 10a to 11. From Dave's Garden, this comment from a contributor living in Oregon:

"I am adding this note for clarification. I live in Portland, Oregon where we have "Peanut Butter Trees". I know because I have one. However, it is NOT the same as this tree. The tree I am referring to is called Japanese Clerodendrum, Peanut Butter Shrub, Harlequin Glory Bower, Clerodendrum trichotomum. The difference is that when you rub a leaf between your fingers, it smells of peanut butter...the tree is not tropical...the flowers are white or pink clusters...and the berries are dark red, almost black. I hope this helps others who are looking for information on the other "Peanut Butter Tree."

Clerodendrum trichotomum, Japanese Clerodendrum, Harlequin Glorybower, Peanut Butter shrub, native to Japan and China. Plant Family Verbenaceae, hardy in Zones 6a to 9b, considered invasive.

So, answering Problem No. 1, we're guessing that what you have is Clerodendrum trichotomum. Clackamas County is in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, which makes it unlikely that the more tropical Bunchosia argentea could survive in your area. There were several mentions in the research we did of this being a suckering shrub, with the potential to be invasive.

Problem No. 2 is that neither of these plants is native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow naturally. So, we have no information on either plant in our Native Plant Database, nor do we have any personal experience with them.

From Fine Gardening, here is an article on Clerodendrum trichotomum. Sudden leaf wilting on any shrub is usually the result of damage to the tree, an assault by insects or an accidental spraying of herbicide from some nearby area.

Pictures

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Native flowers of Italy from Glenwood Springs, CO
August 09, 2009 - My son is dating an Italian girl. Could you just tell me some native flowers of Italy, so he can send her some flowers?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Boulevard Cypress Pom Pom trees in Princeton NJ
October 29, 2011 - I just had some landscaping done near my front door and front yard. I have two Boulevard Cypress B&B (4-5') Pom Pom. The pom poms are turning brown. What should I have been doing? I am watering them ...
view the full question and answer

Advantages of using native plants
March 28, 2015 - Hello. My question is not about a specific plant but a more general question about natives. I am writing a research paper and am interested in finding seminal research that explains why we should us...
view the full question and answer

Shriveling agave from Miami Florida
August 23, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Most upset - My beautiful agave (wish I could have submitted an image) has stared to misbehave. The once first liquid filled leaves, are starting to look more like the skin ...
view the full question and answer

Will frozen non-native agapanthus come back from freeze in Austin?
February 06, 2011 - I don't know if its a native plant, but my agapanthus got frozen in our recent cold weather. Will they come back; should I trim off the tops?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center