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Mr. Smarty Plants - Alternatives to tuliptree and red maple in Central Texas

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Friday - August 03, 2007

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Alternatives to tuliptree and red maple in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in southwest Austin, TX, nearby a creek. The soil is very heavy with clay. I've been perusing web sites for trees, and we like the "Summer Red Maple" and "Tulip Poplar" trees very much, mostly for their proported briiliant cover even in Texas, and good shade. Do you know if these trees will really grow well here?

ANSWER:

Although both trees grow in Texas, their occurrence is in East Texas and not in Central Texas. Both Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree or tulip poplar) and Acer rubrum (red maple) like acidic soils (pH<6.8) like those of East Texas. Additionally, the tulip tree doesn't tolerate compacted soils so I think you would have very poor luck trying to grow it in our Austin clay. There are alternatives, however. Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple) does very well in Austin and has beautiful fall foliage. This is the tree of Lost Maples State Natural Area. There are two oaks, Quercus buckleyi (Buckley oak or Texas oak) and Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak), that have beautiful red fall foliage and also grow well in our area. Two other choices that are small trees/large shrubs are Cotinus obovatus (American smoketree) and Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac).

 


Acer grandidentatum

Quercus buckleyi

Cotinus obovatus

Rhus lanceolata

 

 

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