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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 16, 2013

From: Westfield, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Identification of tree or shrub in Massachusetts
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Good morning, We are in Zone 5 and have a tree/shrub I cannot identify in the backyard of our new home. Tall (6')and growing, green stems,and when the stems are broken the branches smell of lemon or bay rum. We like them, and are just curious as to what they might be. There are several and they seem to do well in shady areas. Thank you for your answer.

ANSWER:

Plants are very difficult to identify from descriptions alone.  This is especially so for most trees.  I can think of one native shrub that grows in that area that has the scent you describe, Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry).  If that isn't your tree/shrub, then your best bet to have it identified is to take photos of it—the whole tree, close-ups of the leaves to show their shape and how they are attached to the stems (adjacent or alternate) and any other features that you think are unique to it.  Then, you should visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

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