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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 29, 2016

From: Austin (Bee Cave), TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Need to identify Cherry laurel varietyin Bee Caves, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I recently had cherry laurels installed in my yard for privacy. Unfortunately, the landscaper does not know what type of cherry laurel they are. The tag from the tree says Che-Com which to me might indicate a compact cherry laurel. Anyways, how can I tell the difference between the prunus carolinia and the prunus carolinia "compacta"? Is there someone that can come by to ID, or us there a clear way to determine exactly what is in my yard? I appreciate your help with this.


There are possibly three ways to approach this problem. The first would be to get back in touch with the landscaper. It seems to me that he/she could get in touch with the supplier and learn what kind of plants were purchased. Another approach would be having someone familiar with Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) take a look at your plants. Contacting the Travis County office of Agrilife Extension might turn up such a person. Thirdly, contacting the Austin Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) could help you find a person knowledgeable about cherry laurels.

I’m including two links that will provide information about cherry laurels. The first from Boething Treeland Farms notes that the branches on ‘Compacta’ are closer together than on the regular Prunus caroliniana. The second link from the University  of Florida states that mature ‘Compacta’ is about one half the size of the regular species.

Unfortunately, Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't usually make house calls.


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