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?

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

Large, fast-growing shade tree for Val Verde County, Texas
April 03, 2016 - What is an overall good shade tree, very large & fast growing, to plant in Central South Texas, Val Verde County region? I am told that virtually nothing but Live Oaks or some other type of Oak will ...
view the full question and answer

How close can I plant Mountain Laurels to my house in Austin, TX?
December 08, 2010 - Hello, I'm interested in planting 2 or 3 Texas Mountain Laurels on the side of my house and I'm wondering just how close is safe. I've been told that planting trees too close can damage the slab f...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Shumard Oaks and Crepe Myrtle in Cooke Co. TX
September 07, 2013 - I have a Shumard Oak Tree that has been in the ground approx. ten years. It has done great, even passing up some of my older Shumards. In August it began to lose its leaves at an alarming rate. They a...
view the full question and answer

Growths on Shumard Red Oak leaves from Katy TX
April 01, 2013 - Our beautiful Shumard Red Oak has developed lots of light green grape like growths on the leaves. Please inform us what this could be and how we should treat it?
view the full question and answer

Will wood shavings in the soil require nitrogen from Charleston MO
May 04, 2011 - I cut down a big maple tree and a lot of the wood shavings was left in the soil. I planted a flower bed over the area this spring. I later read that the wood chips in the soil would use a lot of nitro...
view the full question and answer

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