Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Small tree for container near pool in Houston
June 24, 2010 - Can you recommend a small tree that I can grow in a pot for shade? Looking for minimal mess because it will be near the pool. How big should the pot be?
view the full question and answer

Abundance of acorns from Wimberley TX
November 22, 2013 - We have lived in Wimberley since 1999 and this is the first time we have had such a huge abundance of acorns on our Oak trees, which is surprising considering the drought we have been in the last few ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant that may be a horse apple (Maclura) in Springtown, TX.
July 21, 2009 - I have a tree that I think is a crab apple, however, I can't find it in any collection on internet. The fruit looks like light green colored apples, however, they are very hard and very course textu...
view the full question and answer

Plants for winter installation in Houston
January 01, 2009 - What plants can you plant in the winter, Houston, Texas?
view the full question and answer

Tree options for patio in Sun City West, Arizona.
January 07, 2011 - We have an area near our cement patio in Sun City West AZ where we would like to plant a shade tree. We planted a sissoo tree, but were told that the roots will damage the patio because of the proximi...
view the full question and answer

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