Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
2 ratings

Saturday - January 30, 2016

From: Malden, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Maine Coastal Shrub for Choral Composition
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I'm a choral composer writing a piece of music about Maine. What kind of shrubby things hang on to the rocky bluffs, right by the sea? I'm an avid native plant gardener, but I know my own Massachusetts meadow species best. Thus far we have: Each day she cuts her path to the sea. Stepping carefully between clumps of_________ to level footholds with a short shovel. Packing the thin soil between brittle stems, nestling stones in their beds. Pecking and scraping with the roar in the ears and the gull-sheered wind at the back. On the beach little crabs ball the mud from their holes and race the tide. Over Cow Point the sun is slipping away. If one day the wind did not erase her work, if she ever reached the sand below, would she stand and stare at the great weight of the swells? Or turn and pick her way back up the path with the last of the light? Thank you for any suggestions!


What a fun question and congratulations on your great lyrics.

There are a couple of native Maine shrubs that grow along the coast among the rocks that might fit your song. How about sand cherry (Prunus pumila) or beach plum (Prunus maritima)? Both of these are low growing, suckering shrubs with white blooms and blue-purple fruit.

All the best.


From the Image Gallery

Sand cherry
Prunus pumila

More Shrubs Questions

Identification of shrub from Kuala Lumpur
April 24, 2011 - I am seeing too much of shrubs used for landscaping that looks like dill, its stems are pretty woody and its leaves looks and smells like dill, are they the same? Can I consume this shrub that looks l...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to esperanza in pot from Brady TX
December 10, 2009 - My esperanza, currently in a container, has suffered some freeze damage. I have prepared a planting spot for it and am not sure whether to plant now, trim it back if I do plant it, etc. I would appr...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub in Florida
July 03, 2008 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about identifying some bushes. The bushes I have seen through areas of Florida and they seem to be used most often as natural fences. These are the charac...
view the full question and answer

Hedge plantings for Flower Mound, TX
March 14, 2011 - Need to cover ~ 1000 linear feet with a thick hedge plant that will be ~ 8-15 ft tall, 8-12ft wide, fast growing, evergreen, drought resistant. Live in Flower Mound Tx. Researching on Red tip Photinia...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shelter for butterflies
July 04, 2010 - I understand that butterflies need certain plants for food, but are there specific plants that butterflies prefer to use as shelter in central Texas?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.