En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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


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.


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

More Trees Questions

Fruit trees non-toxic to dogs that will grow in Killeen TX
April 15, 2010 - I live in Central Texas and I'd like to know if there is any fruit tree that is non toxic to dogs that will grow well in my area. My dog eats everything in sight. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mountain Laurel in Leander TX
June 15, 2009 - My 13 yr old Mountain Laurel tree is sick. It has lost most of its leaves after blooming this spring. The twigs seem to still be pliable so I assume alive. I saw no moth worms or bags this year, ju...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Post Oaks
July 26, 2014 - I live in Houston and have two post oaks. One is right by my house. I'd like to trim them but was told they are sensitive and might die if I trim them. Is this true? What is the right course of ac...
view the full question and answer

Shade-loving plants for birds in New Jersey
March 25, 2013 - What native plants should I add to my property, Zone 6, to feed birds naturally? I have a heavily treed lot, so I'd like names of shade loving perennials. Seed or fruit bearing options would be gre...
view the full question and answer

Need fast growing shade tree in San Diego County, CA
June 17, 2015 - I am looking for a fast growing tree that provides great shade. The reason being, is I need shade for three horseshoe pits and the sooner i get shade, the better. I live in San Diego county, zone 9b. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center