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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.

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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.

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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.

 
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Monday - April 22, 2013

From: W. Gilgo Beach, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Long Island Barrier Beach Plants
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live on the south shore of Long Island on a barrier beach and am landscaping my property as a result of Sandy damage. I am going with a sand base, and I am looking for suitable trees and shrubs for the harsh environment (wind, salt, cold winters). I have pines and cedars. looking for other ideas. I appreciate your help in advance.

ANSWER:

Ordinarily, the first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: New York, Habit – shrubs or trees, Duration – perennial, Light requirement – sand, Soil moisture – dry. Since the native plant search turned up close to 100 plants and more specific criteria are needed (salt and wind tolerance, for example), another resource to look at is an online presentation, “Seaside Plants for Coastal Area of Long Island Part 1” by Caroline Kiang, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County from the Long Island Horticulture Conference held January 28th, 2011. Part 2 of this presentation can also be found online.

This presentation lists plants that have been selected for tolerance to salt spray, wind, sandy soil and appropriate winter hardiness.

Some of the native trees and shrubs that Caroline Kiang recommended that you might consider from this presentation are:

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)

Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Baccharis halimifolia (groundseltree)

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry)

Prunus maritima (beach plum)

Rhus copallinum (winged sumac)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry)

Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heath)

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper)

Crataegus crus-galli (cockspur hawthorn)

Photinia pyrifolia (red chokeberry)

Photinia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)

Clethra alnifolia (coastal sweet pepperbush)

Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)

Abies concolor (balsam fir)

Acer rubrum (red maple)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum)

 

From the Image Gallery


Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Black cherry
Prunus serotina

Saskatoon serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia

Groundseltree
Baccharis halimifolia

Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

Staghorn sumac
Rhus typhina

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Cockspur hawthorn
Crataegus crus-galli

Red chokeberry
Photinia pyrifolia

Black chokeberry
Photinia melanocarpa

Coastal pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

White fir
Abies concolor

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