Rent Shop 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?

Share

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 - November 03, 2007

From: Friday Harbor, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Is Carolina laurel (Prunus caroliniana) a good choice for San Juan Islands, Washington?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What are the prospects for Carolina laurel here on San Juan Island, mixed in with thin stand of douglas fir, about 50 feet from shore, eastern exposure? Water is available but little sun because of larger trees. We're hoping to create a screen between us and the neighbors. Thank you, oh mighty green guru!

ANSWER:

Well, unfortunately, Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) is native only to the southeastern and southern U.S. and Texas and California. It is very unlikely that it would thrive on the San Juan Islands. There are other Prunus species that are native to the northwest—Prunus virginiana (chokecherry), Prunus emarginata (bitter cherry) and Prunus subcordata (Klamath plum)—but all of these are deciduous and Mr. SP is almost certain that you are looking for an evergreen, right?

Here are some alternative possibilities for evergreen shrubs/trees that are native to San Juan County, Washington:

1. Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita) reaches 5-10 feet. You can see more photos of Arctostaphylos columbiana from Oregon State University.

2. Vaccinium ovata (Evergreen huckleberry) grows up to 10 feet tall.

3. Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone) can grow to be a large tree (up to 100 feet); but, of course, it does start smaller and takes a while to get to its full height.

4. Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) is another evergreen native to the San Juans that can grow to 50 feet, but is slow growing.

5. Gaultheria shallon (salal) grows to 1-4 feet.

6. Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry) grows 3-6 feet tall.

The Green Guru hopes you can find an acceptable alternative to Carolina laurel among these.

 

More Trees Questions

Fruit and nut trees safe for horses.
May 11, 2015 - My husband and I just moved to Elgin. We have always wanted to grow fruit/nut baring trees but didn't take in to consideration that horses might eat them. We have never had land or horses before, s...
view the full question and answer

How to prune my Linden tree?
June 17, 2009 - We have a 15 yr old Linden in the backyard. North side of home. It can use some pruning at the lower branches. Which branches do we prune and when? Also we have some river birches back there. Oth...
view the full question and answer

Identification of red leaf tree with wispy, feathery plumes on top
June 25, 2009 - I am looking for the name of a red leaf shrub/small tree that has feather like, wispy plumes which grow out of the top most branches. I do not have a photo. I live in Canton, MI.
view the full question and answer

Source for Pyrus ioensis var. Texana
July 09, 2015 - Any idea where I can find Pyrus (now Malus) ioensis var. texana for sale around the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

Trees for barrier fence near swimming pool in West Virginia
March 10, 2010 - Near swimming pool, barrier fence needs to replace pine trees. Prefer blooming perennial at least 12' high,low sun exposure, minimal pruning.
view the full question and answer

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