Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport 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

Tuesday - July 17, 2012

From: Canby, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Non-native, invasive peanut butter tree from Canby, OR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I too have a peanut butter tree with the pink and white blooms, its about 5 years old and is beautiful, but 2 weeks ago it started wilting and losing all its leaves, I am afraid it is dying. Can I save it??

ANSWER:

We have two problems with answering this question: The first problem is that there are two plants that have as one of their common names "Peanut Butter."

Bunchosia argentia, peanut butter tree: Plant family Malpighiaceae, native to Venezuela and Colombia. Small orange edible fruits, flavor resembling figs or peanut butter, with peanut butter scent. USDA Hardiness Zones 10a to 11. From Dave's Garden, this comment from a contributor living in Oregon:

"I am adding this note for clarification. I live in Portland, Oregon where we have "Peanut Butter Trees". I know because I have one. However, it is NOT the same as this tree. The tree I am referring to is called Japanese Clerodendrum, Peanut Butter Shrub, Harlequin Glory Bower, Clerodendrum trichotomum. The difference is that when you rub a leaf between your fingers, it smells of peanut butter...the tree is not tropical...the flowers are white or pink clusters...and the berries are dark red, almost black. I hope this helps others who are looking for information on the other "Peanut Butter Tree."

Clerodendrum trichotomum, Japanese Clerodendrum, Harlequin Glorybower, Peanut Butter shrub, native to Japan and China. Plant Family Verbenaceae, hardy in Zones 6a to 9b, considered invasive.

So, answering Problem No. 1, we're guessing that what you have is Clerodendrum trichotomum. Clackamas County is in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, which makes it unlikely that the more tropical Bunchosia argentea could survive in your area. There were several mentions in the research we did of this being a suckering shrub, with the potential to be invasive.

Problem No. 2 is that neither of these plants is native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow naturally. So, we have no information on either plant in our Native Plant Database, nor do we have any personal experience with them.

From Fine Gardening, here is an article on Clerodendrum trichotomum. Sudden leaf wilting on any shrub is usually the result of damage to the tree, an assault by insects or an accidental spraying of herbicide from some nearby area.

Pictures

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
view the full question and answer

Problems with recently planted trumpet vine from Worcester MA
October 20, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about my recently planted Trumpet Vines. First of all, I live in Massachusetts, zone 6. The soil is perfect for the two vines, which I bought from a local nur...
view the full question and answer

Non-branching mimosa tree
June 26, 2008 - I have a Mimosa Tree, just about 2 years old, grown from seed. The problem with it is that it has not branched out, it looks like one long branch growing out of the ground, about 5 feet if stood strai...
view the full question and answer

Help with control of small, invasive groundcover
April 16, 2012 - I have a very invasive ground cover creeping into my yard. I've tried to identify it and it's similar to creeping charlie or garlic mustard. Leaves are triangular with jagged edges, small purple f...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on native plants
March 26, 2004 - What is a native species?
view the full question and answer

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