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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 29, 2013

From: Junction, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Trees
Title: What are the differences between Arbutus xalapensis, A. unedo and A. marina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

One nursery lists madrone trees as arbutus uneda compacta and arbutus marina. The other lists it as arbutus xalapensis, which is the only name I can find in the data base. There is a very large price difference. How are the plants alike and different? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Our Native Plant Database contains only plants native to North America.  Arbutus xalapensis (Texas madrone) is native to Texas and New Mexico and occurs in our database.  Neither of the other two Arbustus species is native to North America.  Arbutus unedo is introduced tree from Ireland and Southern Europe.  Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is a dwarf version of this tree.  Arbutus 'Marina' is most likely a hybrid between two Arbutus species.   It's origin is somewhat of a mystery; but as a hybrid, it is not considered a native plant.  Here is a discussion of it from Sonoma County Master Gardeners (California).

 

 

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