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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.

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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.

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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.

 
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Thursday - March 08, 2012

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identification of tree with red feathery leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the name of a tree with dark red leaves, feathery, slim trunk; maybe in the pepper family? Jedi?

ANSWER:

Our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center are with plants native to North America.  I could find only one native California tree that sounds anything like your description.  It is Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac) that has feathery green leaves that turn red in the fall.  Your description, however, does sound a bit like the non-native Acer palmaturm (Japanese maple) that grows readily in California.  Here are more photographs of the Japanese maple.  There is the South American native, Schinus molle (Brazilian or Peruvian peppertree), that has feathery green leaves and red berries.   It is on the California Invasive Plant Council's list of invasive plants.  If you have photos of the tree (or can take them), there are links to several plant identification forums on our Plant Identification page that accept photos for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

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