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

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Tuesday - October 15, 2013

From: Bay Point, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Cacti and Succulents, Trees
Title: Non-native jade plants and spider plants beneath Mayberry tree in Bay Point CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a fruitless Mayberry in my back yard that's about 50/50' can I plant jade and spider plants under it? The tree is very healthy.

ANSWER:

We went to our Native Plant Database and searched on "Mayberry." We got this webpage on Vaccinium elliottii (Elliott's blueberry) (follow that link to see what information we have.) Actually we have very little information on that plant, not even any pictures in our Image Gallery. So, we Googled on "Mayberry" and found this article from Floridata on a plant by that name. From that article:

"V. elliottii occurs on the North American southeastern Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia through Florida and west to Arkansas and eastern Texas. Mayberry is an understory shrub, occurring, often abundantly, in diverse habitats, from swamps to dry uplands."

Since our Image Gallery has no pictures of the Mayberry, we went back to Google, searching for images on the scientific name. Here is a group of pictures from Google  do these look like what you have?

Somehow, that doesn't sound like it would be growing in Contra Costa County, California, near San Francisco. Common names of plants (as opposed to their scientific names, such as Vaccinium elliottii (Elliott's blueberry) are often confusing, so we tried searching Google on "Mayberry Tree." There we found Crataegus monogyna, which appears to be a type of hawthorn, native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Here are pictures from Google of that plant. Are we getting close? How about Chinaberry? That is Melia azedarach, native from southeast Asia to Australia. Again, some pictures.

Since we are not making much progress on the tree you have asked about, we will look at the plants you wish to plant beneath it, whatever it is. Jade plant, Crassula ovata, is a succulent native to South Africa and most commonly used as a houseplant. Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum, is native to tropical and southern Africa, also usually used as a houseplant.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are to be grown; in your case, Contra Costa Co., CA. None of the plants you asked about are native to North America, so we can't really help you.

 

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