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

Monday - June 24, 2013

From: Palos Verdes, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Flowering tree with non-invasive roots from Palos Verde CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Want a flowering tree with noninvasive roots for Palos Verdes, CA.


This recent Mr. Smarty Plants answer from San Jose CA has the same concerns you do. While that question was more specific in the area that would be enclosed by concrete than you did, you can certainly read the rest of the article re: non-invasive roots, which you probably asked for with the same reason in mind. Of the list we gave on that answer for Santa Clara County in Central California, these shrubs are also native to the area of southwestern Los Angeles County:

Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry)

Arctostaphylos pungens (Pointleaf manzanita)

Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood)

Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush)

Quercus douglasii (Blue oak)

In particular, follow these instructions for finding plants for your area:

"If you have difficulty finding the California native plants you select, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area. All have contact information so you can inquire in advance whether they have what you are looking for."

You will probably find Las Pilitas Nursery on that list, because it is also in Southern Caifornia, as are you. It has two locations and specializes in plants native to California. In addition to being convenient, they probably have a better selection of plants for your area than we do in our Native Plant Database.

And one other thing - you asked for flowering trees. That is easy: all trees bloom, as do all other vascular plants, native or not. It is necessary for the process of propagation, they must bloom, attract pollinators, form seeds and drop them to the ground in order to perpetuate themselves, which is what all plants are required to do.


From the Image Gallery

Saskatoon serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia

Pointleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos pungens

Red osier dogwood
Cornus sericea

California flannelbush
Fremontodendron californicum

Coastal sage scrub oak
Quercus dumosa

More Shrubs Questions

Does Helasia diptera absorb toxic substances from Dover Plains NY
March 09, 2012 - Dear Mr. Plants, Halesia carolina is described as absorbing toxic substances: herbicides, pesticides and pollutants from water, air and soil. Does Halesia diptera do the same? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant similar to Lindheimer's senna (Senna lindheimeriana)
October 27, 2011 - I purchased "Lindheimer's Senna" at our MG plant sale in Williamson Co. two years ago. My three plants are now 6 ft. tall but I don't think they are Lindheimers. I've searched your plant files ...
view the full question and answer

Space between trees from Blythewood SC
April 05, 2013 - I'm planting 4 green giants in a back corner of my yard. I also have a kumquat tree to plant. I have somewhat limited space. What is the minimum spacing between the four green giants and the green gi...
view the full question and answer

Managing a wet area in Austin
November 18, 2013 - I suspect that my backyard lies at the very top of a creek watershed. However, all of the water flowing through it gets blocked by a solid stone wall. Whenever we get a significant rain event, part ...
view the full question and answer

Blue Natives for San Antonio
June 28, 2012 - What are the best flowers or trees to buy since we are always in stage 2 and sometimes in stage 3 water conservation? I love flowers that are blue, preferably year around. THANK YOU
view the full question and answer

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