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
1 rating

Thursday - April 07, 2011

From: Medford, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Native trees for Medford MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Two quick questions. 1) what trees would grow happily along the banks of the Mystic River in Medford, MA? 2) Would it be o.k. to plant weeping willows? Are they indigenous to the area? I'm not a purist, but my neighbor is. Thanking you in advance for any answers.

ANSWER:

If we may address your last question first: 

Salix x sepulcralis is a hybrid of a Chinese species (Peking willow) and a European species (white willow), and is said to grow in Zones 5 to 8 in the United States. It is weak-wooded, fast-growing and, therefore, short-lived. It has aggressive roots, can lift sidewalks and interfere with sewer lines, often growing on soil surface, making a problem with mowing. It is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, and notorious for littering the ground beneath it. That is to say, we don't like it.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will recommend only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are being grown. So, we will go to our Recommended Species section of our Native Plant Database, and look for trees native to the area of Middlesex County on the eastern side of Massachusetts, about 5 miles from Boston, in USDA Hardiness Zone 6a. 

You may follow the same steps we did, going to the Recommended Species section linked above, click on Massachusetts on the map (or the "MA" at the side, Massachusetts is a pretty small state to click). This will generate a list of 111 native plants for that state. On the sidebar on the right-hand side of that page, you can select "tree" under General Appearance, which is all we did as we did not know if you had a shaded situation, dry soil or what. Those are specifications you can put in when you are doing your own search. When we selected on "tree" and Narrow Your Search, we got a list of 43 trees native to Massachusetts. Of those, we chose 8 that we thought would work well for you, and will link you to the USDA Plant Profile map on each to make sure the trees we chose are native to Middlesex County. You will be able to follow each plant link to our webpage on the plant to learn what soils it likes, how much moisture it needs, when and what color it blooms, expected height, propagation and benefits.

Trees for Middlesex County, Massachusetts:

Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar) - evergreen, 40 to 75 ft. high, habitat chiefly swamps and bogs, part shade, moist sandy soil USDA Plant Profile Map

Fagus grandifolia (American beech) - 50 to 80 ft., habitat wet lowland sites, part shade or shade USDA Plant Profile

Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) - 30 to 40 ft., evergreen, woodland edge, savannahs USDA Plant Profile

Larix laricina (Tamarack) - 50 to 75 ft., cold bogs and wet forests, sun or shade USDA Plant Profile

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tuliptree) - up to 150 ft. tall, low, rich woods, stream banks, sun or shade, USDA Plant Profile

Magnolia acuminata (Cucumbertree) - 60 to 75 ft. tall, low rich woods, stream banks, sun part shade or shade USDA Plant Profile

Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine) - 75 to 100 ft. tall, evergreen, rocky stream banks, sun, part shade or shade USDA Plant Profile

Quercus palustris (Pin oak) - 60 to 70 ft., wet woods, bottomlands, sun, part shade or shade USDA Plant Profile

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Chamaecyparis thyoides

Fagus grandifolia

Juniperus virginiana

Larix laricina

Liriodendron tulipifera

Magnolia acuminata

Pinus strobus

Quercus palustris










 

More Trees Questions

Replacement evergreens under power line in Wisconsin
April 11, 2013 - I have to replace evergreen trees in a privacy screen due to borer damage. The screen is below power lines so the replacements cannot be tall. I would like use bird and pollinator friendly replaceme...
view the full question and answer

Mexicana Redbud failing to bloom in Austin
April 12, 2010 - I have a Mexican Redbud that I bought last fall. It is now April (I'm in Austin), and the leaves have emerged, but the tree did not flower. So . . . what should I do to get it to flower? (The tree i...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree with outrageous thorns
August 10, 2014 - Can you identify this tree? It has these outrageous thorns on its trunk. They are in clusters and are anywhere from 1" long to 4" long or so.
view the full question and answer

Trees starting to die in subdivision in Hutto, TX
May 31, 2012 - I live in Hutto Tx, in a subdivision where everyone has the 2 trees planted in the front yard. My trees have started to die, and I want to find out what kind they are to find a solution
view the full question and answer

Storm damage to native sweet bay magnolias in Kentucky
February 04, 2009 - Can you please share information on storm damage to sweet bay magnolias; if the top is broken off can the tree maintain its natural shape or will the sides begin to grow more than the top; i.e., growt...
view the full question and answer

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