En Español

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?


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

Saturday - December 21, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Need a native pine tree for Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Is there a native pine tree that you would recommend for the Austin, Texas area? We're considering the Colorado pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) or the Papershell pinyon (Pinus remota)? Would either of these work in a sloped residential backyard in south/central Austin that has not been disturbed in many years? Or should we shy away from pine trees for the Austin area? Thank you!


If you look around Austin,  you’ll  discover that there is a dearth of pine trees in the city.
I’ve included USDA distribution maps for the species you mentioned: Pinus edulis (Colorado pinyon pine) (distribution ) and Pinus remota (Papershell pinyon) (distribution ).  A third Pinyon pine is Pinus cembroides (Mexican pinyon)  (distribution ).

A pine that occurs closer to Austin is the Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda (Loblolly pine) (distribution), but its growth needs aren’t satisfied by the Austin soils.

A tool that you can use to help with tree selection is the Texas Tree Planting Guide. This is an interactive guide developed by the Texas Forest service that helps with tree selection, planting and care.

Another source of information is the Recommended Species feature of our Native Plant Database. Click on Central Texas on the map and you will get a list of 157 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. Since you are interested in trees, go to the Narrow Your Search Box and make the following selections: Choose Texas under State, Tree under General Appearance, and Perennial under Lifespan. Check Sun under light Requirement, Dry under Soil Moisture and 12-36 under height. Click the Narrow your search button and your  list shrinks to 13 plants that meet these criteria.

You can also check with folks at the Travis County office of Texas AgriLife Extension for some good advice.



More Planting Questions

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Brown, dry leaves on weeping willow tree
May 01, 2008 - We live in central TX and have just planted a weeping willow tree. Our back yard has a retention pond and ravine that parallels our property and we were told that the weeping willow will do perfectly ...
view the full question and answer

Chile pequin from Spring Plant Sale in Austin
June 08, 2011 - Re: chile pequin purchased at your Spring 2011 sale: it grows, seems to thrive, but sets no flowers and so bears no fruit. It's in terracotta in Ladybug potting soil, on a shady apartment patio. How ...
view the full question and answer

Will Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri thrive in caliche soil?
December 02, 2014 - I live on a high hill in the Hamilton Pool area outside of Austin. I am looking to plant a Dasylirion wheeleri that I grew from seed collected in New Mexico aria East Of Soccoro. I am wondering if the...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on young redbuds in Lincoln TX
August 01, 2010 - I have lined my driveway in Lee County Texas with Red bud trees purchased both in Dripping Springs and in College Station. The 14 trees are of varying ages and heights (planted during the fall and wi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center