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

Thursday - August 05, 2010

From: Saratoga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native Maytens tree in Saratoga, CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, My friend's Mayten tree (green spray)leaves are yellowing and we don't know if it is under-watered (surrounded by grass and fed with a time sprinkler for 20 min. maybe 2 or 3 times a week). Should it be deeply watered? If so, how many times and for how long? Thank you kindly

ANSWER:

The species that generally occurs in California, Maytenus boaria, is not native to North America and we are supposing that this is the one that you have. Although our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is on plants native to North America, we are happy to point you to advice on non-native plants if we can. This Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute article on the Mayten tree  indicate that the tree needs good drainage. Another urban forest group, Canopy, based in Palo Alto, California, lists "collar, foot and crown rots" as problems for the Mayten tree which certainly could occur from not having good drainage.

The California Invasive Plant Council lists the Mayten tree as very invasive and potentially damaging to infrastructure, like sidewalks and foundations.  Since it is isn't flourishing anyway, and is both non-native and invasive, your friend might consider taking it out and replacing it with a tree native to the Santa Clara County area. Here are some suggestions from our Native Plant Database:

Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone) - pictures from Google

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (birchleaf mountain mahogany)

Quercus agrifolia (California live oak)

Umbellularia californica (California laurel)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery: 


Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Quercus agrifolia

Umbellularia californica

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Problems with non-native weeping willow in Villanova PA
July 03, 2009 - My weeping willow (6 years old,80+ft tall),up until this year used to be full and healthy. Last year I trimmed the lower portion of the trunk by cutting off the low hanging branches, but this year so ...
view the full question and answer

Mid-summer watering needs of non-native dwarf Meyer Lemon tree in Austin
March 20, 2011 - I live in Central Texas outside Austin city limits. I've recently purchased a dwarf Meyer lemon tree and planted it in a large pot. It's doing very well. I will be out-of-state from July through ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree with red feathery leaves
March 08, 2012 - What is the name of a tree with dark red leaves, feathery, slim trunk; maybe in the pepper family? Jedi?
view the full question and answer

Leaf color in non-native sago palms
January 24, 2009 - I have two sego palms planted in my front yard. Lots of sun. The fronds have turned a lime green color instead of the dark green color. Please help...(alkaline soil)
view the full question and answer

Non-native Chamaedorea cataractarum question from Somerset MA
February 12, 2010 - I have a Chamaedorea Cataractarum palm and I was wondering what a clumping palm is. From what part of the plant do the new fronds emerge? Was trying to look all over the web but can't find it. If you...
view the full question and answer

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