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 - May 16, 2013

From: Westfield, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Identification of tree or shrub in Massachusetts
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Good morning, We are in Zone 5 and have a tree/shrub I cannot identify in the backyard of our new home. Tall (6')and growing, green stems,and when the stems are broken the branches smell of lemon or bay rum. We like them, and are just curious as to what they might be. There are several and they seem to do well in shady areas. Thank you for your answer.

ANSWER:

Plants are very difficult to identify from descriptions alone.  This is especially so for most trees.  I can think of one native shrub that grows in that area that has the scent you describe, Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry).  If that isn't your tree/shrub, then your best bet to have it identified is to take photos of it—the whole tree, close-ups of the leaves to show their shape and how they are attached to the stems (adjacent or alternate) and any other features that you think are unique to it.  Then, you should visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification, possibly Datura
September 07, 2007 - I have a wide green-leafed plant that has white flowers. This plant also has some thorny fruits in the shape of mines that float on the ocean. At the moment it is 2 feet high. I'm beginning to wo...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly Datura wrightii
August 25, 2010 - I have a plant in my back yard, it had big white trumpet flowers, and now it has huge green pods. Doesn't smell very nice. Could you tell me what it is?
view the full question and answer

Identification of strange dark green blobs
February 03, 2012 - In my back yard I have a type of plant with no roots only around in the summer and when it rains. It looks like a person took a piece lettuce and put way too much water into it and wadded it up. It ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 08, 2012 - I have visited this page and 18 more! I am still trying to find a plant that I found on a creek that runs through our land. I have pics. Great ones! Can I send the pic? If you like it, use it. I ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of white flowering bush with lovely scent
May 17, 2015 - Please identify the sweet smelling white flowering bush/tree blooming now,May, in western Massachusetts. The flowers are tiny 4(?) petals in small clusters. The scent is wonderful.
view the full question and answer

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