En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

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

Live oak leaves turning yellow after planting in Houston
December 19, 2011 - We bought a 65 gallon live oak in early October, and have been watering fairly heavily three days a week. It seemed OK, then all of a sudden lots of the leaves are turning yellow. Is it getting too ...
view the full question and answer

Trees to replace some non-native invasives in Deltona FL
February 02, 2012 - I would like to replace 3 large ChinaBerry & 3 large Chinese Tallow trees in my good sized back yard with some local wildlife friendly trees native to the Deltona area(first area.) What do you recomme...
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflowers in spring for spring bloom
March 02, 2012 - I was wondering if it is possible to plant wildflowers around this time of year, and expect them to bloom in the spring still? I have heard that many wildflowers germinate in the fall. Are there c...
view the full question and answer

Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
May 17, 2013 - I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center