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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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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!

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Tuesday - March 03, 2015

From: Chino Valley, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Trees
Title: What shade trees have non-invasive root systems?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

What shade trees have a non-invasive root system? I am in zone 7a. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants often gets questions about trees with invasive roots. Tree roots don't mean to be invasive, but they ( the roots) have to have a certain amount of earth and exposure to air for the tree to survive.

I’m going to refer you to a previously answered question that will help you understand more about tree roots. Also pay attention to the link to Colorado State University. Another previous answer also addresses a similar question.
As for tree selection, click on this link to our Native Plant Database, and scroll down to the Combination Search box. Select Arizona under State, Tree under Habit, and Perennial Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement,and Dry under Soil moisture. Click on the Submit combination Search button, and you will get a list of 35 tree species that are native to Arizona. Clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that contains a description of the plant, its characteristics and growth requirements, and in most cases, photos. Compare the trees on the list with the trees mentioned in the two previously answered questions.

Hopefully, this will be enough to get you off to a good start.

 

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