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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 19, 2010

From: Belle Mead, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Planting spot for sycamore in Belle Mead NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

At school we all got a tree. It was a Buttonwood tree, which I know is REALLY big, but my grandma wants to plant it near other trees. Where should I put it? My dad won't let me plant it in the middle of the yard. Also, will lightning be more attracted to IT or a lightning rod?

ANSWER:

We hate to side with your grandmother and father, but we agree that the Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) would be better planted near other trees. I'm sure it is a very small tree right now, and since it can grow in sun, part shade or shade, it could use the shelter of the other trees until it gets a little more size on it and can take care of itself. Also, planting it in the middle of your yard means that when it grows up (and it's a pretty fast-growing tree) it will shade out the grass in your lawn, and drop a whole lot of leaves and seeds on the ground. My grandmother, in Wichita Falls, Texas had sycamores in her yard, and I always loved the peeling bark and what I  called the "fluffballs" but were really seed balls. That is probably why this tree also has the common name "buttonwood." It is a native to New Jersey, and you can follow the plant link above to our page on it and find out more about how it grows.

Now, about the lightning. You realize that is a little out of our field, which is plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. But it is an interesting question, so we did a little research to find something that might help you figure out the answer. 

Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Trees and Lightning

How Stuff Works How Lightning Works

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Tree with taproot for Jodhpur India
July 05, 2013 - I am a resident of India. I need information of a tree with tap roots to grow in my backyard. We have moderate to hot climate here. It needs to be as small as possible due to lack of space. It'd be g...
view the full question and answer

Tree for St Paul MN
April 30, 2012 - Need deciduous faster growing shade tree, more taproot style (few/no surface bulging roots--had to cut down large silver maple), few/no fatal pests, tolerant of cold (MN), preferably able to take vari...
view the full question and answer

Are white pine trees toxic to horses?
May 31, 2009 - Are white pine trees toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for sandy soil and not much water
April 14, 2008 - I am planning a new garden at home and would like to grow native plants that can handle sandy soil and don't need much water. I do not water my gardens.I would prefer plants that can have more than o...
view the full question and answer

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