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

Mountain ash seedlings in Yorkshire, England
May 25, 2008 - Is there any way I can stop Mountain Ash from seeding in my garden. This year in particular, I am absolutely overrun with the seedlings and once they get a hold they are difficult to remove.
view the full question and answer

Season to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle from Fallbrook CA
July 25, 2013 - Would like to know which season would be the best to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle in Fallbrook, CA area? I presently have invading bamboo, which I want to get rid of. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Growth in oak tree in San Antonio
April 05, 2011 - We have a very large gorgeous oak tree in our backyard here in San Antonio, Texas. I noticed a thickness high up in the tree. Thinking it was a nest of some sort, I used binoculars and saw a parasiti...
view the full question and answer

Appropriate use of redbud from Austin
May 04, 2014 - I am considering purchasing a hearts of gold redbud; I am also xeriscaping my front yard. I live in Austin,TX. Will this tree do ok in full Tx sun (8+ hours) with once a week watering? If this...
view the full question and answer

Ash tree shedding seeds early in IL
June 23, 2011 - I've lived in my house 13 years now and have a large and old ash tree in my backyard near my patio. The seed pods are ten-fold this year and are dropping constantly. I've never experienced this co...
view the full question and answer

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